Robotics team set to attend Texas BEST

By Chelle Delaney

It was Mars or bust for San Jon Schools Robotics Team.

And Buster, with a little from his team, won the day.

The team won the top spot at a robotics competition Oct. 27 with their robot “Buster.” The competition was BEST Robotics in New Mexico, with BEST standing for Boosting, Engineering, Science and Technology.

San Jon took home the best overall honor and best T-shirt design and booth design in competition against 15 other New Mexico high schools at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo.

“There were some pretty big schools out there to compete against,” said Tommy Evans, the team’s coach.

The contest challenge was for Buster and other robots to pick up goods, such as food and fuel, from a supply depot and deliver them to a human colony on Mars. A cargo of bottles and boxes picked up and moved by the robot were the provisions for the colony. It was also how the team scored points.

San Jon had five students who were drivers and spotters. The spotter had to use hand signals to tell the driver which way to direct the radio-controlled robots.

The team was sponsored by the Science Club, a parents booster club for the all science projects at the school.
Of the 27 kids on the team, 20 attended the competition.

Winning also means that they are qualified to attend a multi-state robot competition, Texas BEST, on Nov. 30 – Dec. 1.

The team won $2,000 to help members attend the upcoming and future competitions, said Morisa Evans — who is the team’s mentor and supporter, according to Tommy Evans, her husband.

Attending a robotics competition is like attending a sports event, said Morisa Evans. And part of the competition is a about learning about sportsmanship and to be fair losers and fair winners, she said.

“It’s also amazing when you hear hundreds of kids cheering for science,” she said.