Summer 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 21 of 43

22 | atpe news BENEFITS One of the goals of the UIL pilot program is to engage students who have not been involved in the traditional UIL academics, athletics, and music competitions. As robotics competitions become more popular, and as schools are able to tout their successes in the UIL competitions, the number of programs and participating students should grow each year. In addition, having UIL-sanctioned school-based teams will allow students who may not otherwise have access to robotics programs to explore STEM- related activities. One goal of the new UIL robotics programs will be to increase the participation of girls, minorities, and low-income students. The UIL stamp of approval may also make district funds available to school teams that had previously relied on sponsorships, donations, and fundraising eforts. HISTORY OF THE PROGRAMS BEST was founded in 1993 by two engineers from Texas Instruments. In its frst year, BEST sponsored 14 robotics teams, with a total of 221 students participating. Since then, BEST has spread throughout Texas and now has teams in other states. In 2015, 350 Texas schools had BEST teams, totaling about 6,200 students. BEST provides each team with a robotics starter kit free of charge. While each school can only form one BEST team, there is no limit to the number of students allowed on each team. Adult mentors, who can be teachers or volunteers from the community, provide guidance to the team, but the students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots. At the beginning of each season, BEST provides a challenge that each robot must complete. It can be anything from performing a task to navigating a maze. Teams then have six weeks to design, build, and test their creation. The robots are put through their paces at local competitions, and the robots that complete the challenges most efciently win and move on to the next round. In addition to the performance of their robots, teams are judged on their project notebook, which chronicles the eforts to design, build, and program their robots. They are also required to do a marketing presentation and pass a conference exhibit interview with judges. Teams are also judged on their school spirit and sportsmanship. The competition season closes with a state championship held each year in the fall. The 2016 BEST state competition will take place in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in November. The UIL state championship will take place at the same event, and school teams will be able to compete in both the BEST and UIL championship competitions. FIRST was founded in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1989 and sponsored its frst teams in Texas in 2010. During the last competitive season, 15 percent of Texas high school students— roughly 7,000 kids—participated in FIRST- sponsored robotics programs. FIRST expects that number to grow as a result of the partnership with UIL. The organization hopes to expand into rural areas, where students don't always have the same access to mentors from tech and engineering frms that kids in more urban areas have. There are four categories of FIRST competitions: 2 2 | Derrick Walker, Connor Schee, Reese Clawson, Bradley Mann, and Sam Kuehnhold are members of Keller High School's robotics team.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of ATPE News - Summer 2016