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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Federated Giving Programs, Philanthropy, Youth Development

Mission: BEST is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science, technology, and math through participation in a sports-like, science- and engineering-based robotics competition.

Programs: The program involves having middle and high school students design, build, then demonstrate a robotic machine to play a sports-like "game". Engineers from local industry act as mentors to guide the students in the engineering process, teaming and other business principles. The contest is designed to simulate a real-world business and engineering environment. The contest simulates:
1) Time to Market - through a limited time period (only 6 weeks);
2) Design to Cost - by providing a "kit" of raw materials from which the robot must be designed. No other parts are allowed; 
3) Design to Function - by requiring teams to build a robot that meets design restrictions such as size/weight and still performs specific tasks in the game to earn points. Students learn other aspects of product development such as advertising, fund raising, technical writing, business operations, teamwork and leadership, etc. There are no entry fees and all materials are provided for the participating schools. There are many hubs (local contest sites) throughout the United States. Each hub sets it's own budget, performs it's own fundraising and executes the local competition.  All hubs use the same game, kit materials and time-frame for the contest, as defined and controlled by BEST Robotics, Inc.  The budget for a typical hub is approximately $1200 per team.  Hubs host from 8 to 32 teams.

Community Stories

56 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A colleague and I started the first BEST "hub" (competition site) in Alabama in 2001 and since then have had a hand in helping 20-plus other hubs get started around the country. There are now 47 sites in 16 states, with 8 here in Alabama. BEST is now entering its 19th year as a volunteer-run organization. It continues to have a profound impact on K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and the lives of thousands of students who participate in it. My experience in BEST has been the highlight of my 33 years in higher education and I count it a privilege to get to be a part of it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the BEST program for 10 years now as a student, a volunteer, and a mentor.

From all aspects, BEST has helped me immensely in my engineering career. The hands-on experience that I received in high-school as well as the interaction with mentors and teachers gave me a jump start on my college education. It has also given me valuable experience with some of the "soft skills" that engineers typically lack. I was ahead of my peers in skills such as presentation, communication (written and oral), and working on a team of engineers on a deadline with tight restrictions (budget and time).

As a mentor, I got a chance to see the competition from another angle. It was an experience to mentor participants and see their engineering and problem-solving skills take off in just 6 short weeks. I still see some of the students that I mentored on campus in engineering, and it is exciting to know that I may have had some small part in inspiring them to pursue engineering.

As a volunteer, I continue to give back to the BEST program, as I feel that more high school students should get the benefits that I received from the competition. As a volunteer, I am focused on providing the most consistent and exciting competition experience that I possible can for the students.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved in BEST for several years, and I love it. It is the answer to sports dominated academics. Kids are able to have the thrill of competition, and at the same time, use their gifts of building, designing, writing, painting, calculating, teaming, problem solving, etc. It has an amazing impact on the kids who are involved. As a math teacher/sports coach, I see the kids develop an appreciation of math. Math is no longer a necessary evil, but a pathway to a future.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last fall we ran our first local competition. Once word got out about what we were doing, we were overwhelmed with schools who wanted to participate. We had to limit the number the first year. This year we will easily double in size and still have to limit the number of teams we can take. BEST is fantastic!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first became involved with BEST in 2003 after being asked to help judge by a local professor and good friend. After the first hub event (then Alabama BEST) I was hooked. I was so thoroughly impressed by the program and by the enthusiasm of these remarkable students that I haven't missed the opportunity to judge at any our hub or regional events since! It was also my great pleasure to be part of the judging staff at the National Championship in 2010.

I know of no other program that offers students the opportunity to take part in such a "real world" engineering effort. BEST allows students of a wide range of skills and future career paths to come together in a team effort to design, build, promote, and support an engineered product. And what they accomplish along the way can only serve to grow them into truly successful people, no matter where their studies lead them.

As long as I'm able to support this wonderful process, how could I possibly not be involved?

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered to be a judge in the 2010 New Mexico State University/BEST state competition. My educational background is electrical/computer engineering and I came to the competition with a bias for judging the exciting, "sexy," robot performance phase of the competition; however, what I discovered was, perhaps, more important than evaluating robot performance. At the competition I discovered the diversity of skills that could be utilized on a team.

BEST emphasizes much, much more than simply the math/engineering technical phases of project development, such as, community support, fund raising, team building, and record-keeping. The BEST competition provided an opportunity for students to recognize not only the importance of the technical contributions from students interested in building robots, but also, the significance of contributions from students with interests in business, photography and graphic design, project management, and communications.

One of our more successful teams included students who, of course, were programmers and physics students focused on robot performance, but the team had humanities/arts students working on photos and videos to document the robot development while business students organized presentations to the city council for support from their community during fund raisers. The BEST competition truly did help bring together a small but diverse community in support of their high school students as they built their robot.

I thoroughly enjoyed evaluating the teams and working within the BEST organization.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was involved with the BEST competition for the first time this year. I volunteered to help as a judge. As someone who also works in a technical field, I was very encouraged to see so many young people get excited about technology. The BEST organiziation is a great way for students of all interests and ages to get involved. There is a role for each student to perfom regardless of technical ability.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The BEST competition helped me kick off a new program starting at our school. We had never had a robotics group and jumped into this competition to try and get one started. The support we got along every step of the way was enormous. The kick-off day had people who were dedicated to helping us understand what the end goals were and even included a "get started" workshop for us to begin the steps to building our robot. We had volunteer mentors who came to our school and helped my team work through the problem-solving and building that went in to getting ready for competition. We also utilized the ability to post questions and get advice from other teams, and even had a team allow us to go over and practice on their "field" and offer advice. We look forward to going back next year.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked the registration and information desk the past to years at the Tennessee Valley Best Robotics at Calhoun Community College. My experience with this event has been a very positive one. Both years I was able to help for my time slot and someone was there when my shift was finished. Also I had the opportunity to watch the event as a spectator while I was not working and the event seems to be a very educational experience for everyone involved!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Students got a hands on expierence by buidling and planning a desgin for the challenge that was given.

Review from Guidestar