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BEST Robotics fifth annual competition begins on Sept. 18 on the campus of ASU

September 14, 2010 -- On Saturday, Sept. 18, ASU's Department of Computer Science will host the fifth annual Kickoff Day for Crowley's Ridge BEST Robotics; this event marks the start of a six-week competition involving hundreds of bright, motivated 6th-12th grade students from schools in this area. The event will be held at ASU's  Laboratory Sciences Center, East Wing, commonly known as Lab Sciences East, in Room 219. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and opening remarks are at 9 a.m. Breakout sessions begin at 10 a.m. Kickoff Day will end at 12:30 p.m.

Students watch as robots compete in last year's Game Day, the culmination of the BEST program.s Dr. E. T. Hammerand, associate professor of Computer Science at ASU, and BEST program director, said, “This year, we wanted to give the students more of a feel for the college experience, so we decided to bring BEST into our classrooms and labs. We are looking at Kickoff Day as an excellent opportunity to promote educational programs at ASU to some of the better students in our corner of the state. As many as two dozen schools may participate this year. We will hold 45-minute breakout sessions, including Dr. Charles Coleman’s session in the computer-aided drafting lab in the College of Agriculture and Technology, and a computer programming tutorial in the Math building, along with other tutorials there.”

Dr. Hammerand adds, “We are also going to visit the Kays Foundation, a long-time sponsor of the BEST program. The foundation is hosting our field setup in coordination with their celebration of 100 years of service. Recipients of Kays Foundation grants, like us, will provide demonstrations of the advancements they have made with funding provided by the foundation.”

BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) was initiated at ASU by the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA) to spur student interest in science and math. BEST is a non-profit program free to schools; it even provides supplies free of charge. The BEST program that has excited thousands of students across the country about potential educations and careers. Although BEST was initiated to spur student interest in science and math, the competition actually encompasses more than that.

On Saturday, Sept. 18, BEST program director Dr. E. T. Hammerand and his colleagues will introduce this year's problem, distribute supplies, and send the students home to begin work in five different areas. The robot is the heart of student work, but students will also create table displays (focusing on selling their robot as a product to the public); oral presentations (selling/defending their robot to a panel of judges); an engineering notebook; and methods of displaying spirit and sportsmanship. Breakout sessions at 10 a.m. will focus on these areas.

Volunteer speakers are needed from business communication, marketing, graphic design, finance, communication studies, technical writing, engineering, physical education, and military science to speak for perhaps 15 minutes each in general terms about their field as it relates to a category above. The judging sheet which will be used at the end of the competition is available, as well as other reference materials. Speakers are welcome and encouraged to talk about educational opportunities in their programs at ASU, as well as introducing students to such opportunities. As Dr. Hammerand says, “This is what BEST is all about. This will be the first experience with a university faculty member for many of these students, and it can be a very positive influence in their lives.”

Students will meet again on Saturday, Oct. 16, in the center square outside the food court of the Mall at Turtle Creek, for Mall Day, and the culmination of the four-week event is Saturday, Oct. 17, Game Day, to be held on campus at ASU.

To find out more about BEST Robotics, visit the national site online at The Crowley’s Ridge BEST Robotics program is online at Contact Dr. E. T. Hammerand, program director, at (870) 680-8109.

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