Engineering success: BV Robotics team advances to regionals
The Berryville High School Robotics Team won third place overall at the Boosting Engineering Science and Technology (BEST) Robotics Competition in Harrison, earning a spot at the Regional Robotics Championship at the University of Arkansas in Forth Smith on Nov. 30.
The team members are Claudia Alvarez, Maria Berrios, Victoria Armstrong, Hunter Blankenship, Montana Engel, Simone Feltman, Dakota Hall-Alvard, Paola Escobar, Jason Helfrich, Amy Esplin, Amber Veach, Jared Soto, Ethan Gregory, Matthew Hausman, Clayton Jewsbury, Jaxton Johnson, Brendon Kelch, Matthew Logan, Johnny Martinez, Brody Perkins, Dustin Soto, A.J. Worley and Joe Zaloudek.
Club adviser Jennifer Feltman said there were several requirements for the competition, including the completion of a research paper, a marketing presentation, a promotional booth, a website and the robotics competition. She said students would take on different parts of the project. For example, Alvarez and Berrios served as marketing specialists, she said, while Engel and Hall-Alvard worked as research specialists.
Blankenship said this was Berryville’s second year to participate in the BEST Robotics Competition. The theme of this year’s competition, he said, was keeping the oceans clean.
“The course has two two-by-fours stacked on top of each other,” he said. “They were held on by strings so the board could sway. In the middle, we had hula hoops, and they were supported up on pedestals.”
Blankenship continued, “You had to have your robot reach out into these jars and grab trash. Then it transported it to your field engineer or field scientist to dispose of the trash.”
Engel said he was surprised the team placed third overall.
“Yeah, I was surprised because our robot was built in like three days pretty much,” Blankenship said. “We could have done better. We built the robot last minute. We had a lot of different ideas, and we finally narrowed it down based on time.”
Jennifer Feltman explained that the team had been working on the project consistently since the BEST Robotics Kickoff, but the requirements of this year’s competition were so different from any previous competition.
“Many first-year teams showed up to the kickoff, saw the difficulty level and dropped out,” she said. “This was a rough one.”
Simone Feltman, who served as project manager with Blankenship, said there were a lot of things the team had to work around in order to get their robot to work.
“It was kind of thrown together at the last minute because people kind of slacked a little bit,” she said.
Before regionals, she said they will need to revise everything they did on the robot to get it on the same level as the other team’s robots.
“We need more mobility,” Helfrich said. “That’s for sure.”
Engel said the team is looking forward to competing at Regionals in Fort Smith.
“It’s a fascinating experience. I enjoy it,” he said. “My motto is ‘If you’re given a good time, make it an amazing time.’ ”
“I think what I’m most looking forward to is the exposure of everything,” said Simone Feltman, “and seeing and meeting all the people there who are also interested in this area.”
Jennifer Feltman said the regional competition at Fort Smith will include teams from Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. She said she is very proud of the team’s success.
“It was awesome,” she said. “We have a neat mix of kids. Some of the kids are used to putting themselves out there. When you look at the kids on campus who are the movers and shakers, some of our team were those kids.”
Feltman continued, “The coolest thing about BEST Robotics is this takes those kids who aren’t necessarily in athletics and who maybe never participated in anything before and they’re out there doing amazing things.”
She said she is also thankful to the community for its support of the team. Jeneanne Duncan of Montgomery Whiteley Realty donated the team’s T-shirts, she said, and the team will be reaching out to the community with more opportunities to support the team ahead of regionals.
“Berryville has so much to offer,” said Jennifer Feltman. “I would love for our community to realize what an amazing gem we have in Berryville schools as well as our students. The students have the opportunity here to set some pretty high goals, and the school, the teachers and the other students will help them do their best to reach it. I love it here. We’ve got a lot going for us.”