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How To Embed Basic Science Concepts In A High School Robotics Design Contest

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Physics in the K-12 Classroom

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.615.1 - 7.615.6



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Paper Authors

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Sarah Faitak

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Monika Blair

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Matthew Johnson

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Ken Vickers

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Greg Salamo

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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Session 2480

How to Embed Basic Science Concepts in a High School Robotics Design Contest

Sarah Faitak, Greg Salamo, Kenneth Vickers University of Arkansas Matt Johnson University of Oklahoma Monika Blair Texas Instruments


When observing a BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) robotics competition, it is obvious that to develop a robot that is competitive, the participating high school students have had to learn how to work as a team, be creative and problem solve. Knowing that the teams are only given a box of materials, a list of game rules and six weeks to design and build the robot, it is also obvious that they have gained time and resource management skills. Amid the fun and excitement of the competition, students barely know they are learning these important skills; skills which are invaluable for the continuation of their education and for their careers. In the heat of this competition, ripe for learning, is there a lost opportunity to more deeply teach basic science concepts as well?

With funding from a National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) grant, and in collaboration with Texas Instruments (TI), the Center for Semiconductor Physics in Nanostructures (C-SPIN) is developing a reference tool The BEST Book of Science Basics to be distributed to the coaches and teachers of BEST robotics teams across the U.S. The book is not developed as a “how to” manual, but instead serves as a reference and study guide for better understanding the science behind the engineering (force, torque, center of mass, friction etc.). Through their desire to be competitive, BEST Robotics students will use this tool to learn how basic science concepts apply to the design and building of their robots.

The Collaborators

BEST, now beginning the tenth year of involving students in science, is a sports-like robotics competition for junior high and high school students that simulates real-world conditions within industry. In designing, building and testing the robot, students experience the teamwork, creativity, time and materials management skills that are very much a part of the working environment in industry today. Rules require that students design and build the robots and that adult coaches and mentors provide only guidance through innovative questioning of the students (i.e. “Have you considered the energy lost in gearing up and down with your square wheels on both carpet and hard surfaces?”)

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Faitak, S., & Blair, M., & Johnson, M., & Vickers, K., & Salamo, G. (2002, June), How To Embed Basic Science Concepts In A High School Robotics Design Contest Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10311

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