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February 12, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 12, 2011

I have been a faculty advisor for my school's BEST robotics team for the past seven years. This is by far the best real-life learning experience my students have. Apart from the obvious Math and Science, they also use their artistic abilities to work toward a common goal. The social interaction, leadership skills and competition are outstanding character-building activities.

We are a very small public school, with few extra-curricular activities available for our students. BEST provides an affordable, enjoyable and rewarding challenge for my kids. They anxiously look forward to kick-off day, when they learn what the new game will be. They then prepare for the competition after school and on weekends: spending much more time than any of our athletic teams do to prepare for their competitions.

A lot of our time is spent in fund-raising. Here is another real-life experience. The team learns first-hand how expensive it is to transport, house and feed 30 kids for a weekend.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have witnessed all aspects of this competition. I simply unlock the door and watch the kids work. They occasionally ask for my opinion or advice. But it's their project from start to finish. I have seen them fail and succeed. Their failures inspire them to work harder, and their successes prove that hard work really is rewarded.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The BEST robotics competition is heavily skewed in favor of private schools. Time is a valuable commodity, and private schools can work on the competition all day, every day. Public schools have time constraints imposed by law, and therefore are at a distinct disadvantage. I would suggest dividing the contest between public and private schools, and award prizes to the winners of each class.

February 11, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 11, 2011

I have been a judge for the BEST competition at the local and regional level for 3 years now. Each year I am consistently amazed to see how excited students can be about math, science and engineering when given the proper motivation. The quality of work and the spirit shown by the teams is fantastic, even when the robots don't end up working as expected.

Another thing is the energy around these competitions. Everyone is excited: the students in the pits, the teachers on the sidelines, the cheering parents in the stands, the judges, the referees, EVERYONE.

I think it's fantastic to be a small cog in the BEST machine, may it pick and place students on the path to higher education and practical application of knowledge for years to come!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Auburn, AL

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Have a practice day in addition to mall day for teams who can't afford to build their own fields.

February 10, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 10, 2011

This country's response to the STEM education crisis is being shaped by a hand-full of organizations, and BEST Robotics is a key player in that regard. Last year BEST engaged over 14,000 students in a program that successfully keeps them interested in STEM classes through middle and high school. The amazing thing is that thanks to the thousands of volunteers that run the program, it costs less than $100 per student and due to the generosity of our sponsor's, none of that cost is realized by the students or the schools.

BEST is a robotics competition program that goes way beyond building robots. BEST students attest to gaining skills in engineering, marketing, management, leadership, communication, team-building and collaboration all in a project-based learning forum. BEST students attest to being more knowledgeable about career opportunities and better positioned to choose any career they desire. BEST students attest to the profound impact the program has on their lives.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've worked with students in the classroom, judged teams at contest, helped run contests at every level, engaged sponsors for funding, and serve on the Board of Directors. I have to say that from top to bottom, the program is focused on the students and making sure they get everything they can from the experience.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

TBD

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Making sure students gain as much as possible through the program

What is its top priority in the long run?

Impacting teh STEM education crisis

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

February 9, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 9, 2011

I have been involved with BEST Robotics for 5 years and I have seen first-hand the impact that it has on kids. I've seen kids go from completely unengaged with school to productive, excited, and accepted members of the robotics team in a matter of weeks. This program is STEM learning at its finest!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the number of students interested in STEM fields as a result of BEST.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

spread more hubs around the US...giving more kids the opportunity to experience BEST!

February 9, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 9, 2011

Our high school is involved with 3 different robotics competitions and BEST is the most accessible for high school students. It offers more rewards on a daily basis, more hands on benefit, and a larger variety of ways to plug in than other competitions. My students love BEST with a passion and devote their high school careers to it as soon as they start the program. The kit that is provided to the schools provides them with most of what they need to build a competitive robot. There is a significant amount of programming, electrical design, and of course mechanical design involved in the solution. I highly recommend this as the sole program for any school.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

We have competed in Philadelphia and Alabama for the past 6 years.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Perhaps give more leniency with the materials that students are allowed to use on the robot, but I'm not sure I would even want that to occur. It is a very, very well run organization.

February 8, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 8, 2011

My sons have participated in BEST for three years and LOVED IT! They look forward to robotics every year and enjoy every minute they put into it. It has given them experience in many fields of business, ie.; problem-solving of engineering, use of tools, engineering notebook, marketing presentation, marketing display and leadership.

BEST works hard to keeps costs down so teams can participate without needing a lot of money. The games are always challenging and push the students' creativity and ingenuity.

Thank you to all the BEST volunteers who put in so much time.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My sons have gained experience in many marketing and engineering and leadership areas due to this organization.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I don't know of any changes I would make.

February 8, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 8, 2011

We were fortunate enough to be selected as one of BEST's newest hubs in 2010. The overall experience was rewarding to the students as well as the volunteers. It would be easy to talk about the excitement of the robotic competition but the reason we are involved can be summarized in one story. Following the event, a dad expressed his graditude to me and my staff. He said that during the short 6 week period his child participated in the BEST program, his grades and attitude had improved, he had developed new friendships, and he was once again engaged in school.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The BEST organization has built "community" between the university and regional school districts that goes beyond a one-day robotic competition.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

At this point, I would not recommend any changes to the organization. After the first year of involvement, BEST was as advertised.

February 7, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 7, 2011

My first experience with BEST Robotics was to visit Texas BEST in 2000. At that time, I had heard about the program and was interested in possibly bringing it to teachers in the southeast. After seeing the program in action, I was hooked for life! The students were so positive, the event volunteers were welcoming and answered all of my questions, and the atmosphere was electric.
The next fall, I brought it back to my university and persuaded several others to help me do it. In the first year, we had 24 teams. By the second year, we had 60 teams registered! What a great problem to have. By the third year, there was enough momentum in the southeast to start BEST's second Regional Championship, The South's BEST.
Each year, I coordinate almost 20 different science-related outreach programs for my university. BEST still remains the most dynamic, and most influential program on young people that I am involved with. I truly cannot wait to see how BEST will look ten years from now.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

So many stories, so little space! One story involves a young man at a very rural high school in west Alabama. His physics teacher decided to try BEST and the young man ("John") joined the team. His teacher told me that John had no aspirations of going to college, and was really a very average, unmotivated student, though very bright. He stayed on the team for 3 years and began to excel in school. Today, John is at the U.S. Air Force Academy majoring in engineering and studying to be a fighter pilot.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find a way to get it into every rural school across the south! I would also like to see more teacher training and stipends for teachers who coach the teams.

February 5, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 5, 2011

I was first introduced to BEST Robotics in the fall of 2003. I was asked to serve as a sportsmanship judge for the event at a local high school. As part of my judging assignment, I observed the interaction of the student teams not only within their own team, but also with other teams.

During the lunch break, my fellow judging partner and I were watching some teams practice on the game field getting ready for the afternoon's competition. One of the local junior high teams was having a tough time getting their robot to climb a ramp that was part of the game field and a critical element in being successful in the competition. A senior high student from another local high school watched their practice and gave them some valuable advice. He coached them in their practice and by the time the lunch break was over, he had them successfully climbing the ramp and accessing other scoring opportunities on the field. That afternoon during the competition, the junior high team he helped almost won the whole contest! From that moment, I was hooked on BEST.

There are countless stories just like mine that flow through the archives of BEST. I have personally witnessed young people get super excited about a robot championship that not only stresses the robot game, but the behind the scenes effort that goes into their Engineering Project Notebook, Marketing Presentation, Exhibit, interviews and sportsmanship. The valuable lessons of teamwork, leadership and dedication seem to permeate the entire organization and set the stage for these young people to be successful not only in BEST but their life career.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

As my role as a director, my main responsibility is to coordinate the opportunities for local and regional student teams to partcipate in the BEST experience each fall. It has been my pleasure to watch first-hand the tremendous talent, hardwork and dedication of my participating BEST teams and volunteers. I do this not for myself, but for the students whose lives are impacted by the organization.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would not change the basic philosphy of this organization. That is to provide a excellent opportunity for young people (middle, junior and high school age) to participate in a sports-like science-and engineering-based robotics competition. But , the beauty of it all is that BEST is more than just the robot.

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