Tennessee Valley BEST

I worked today as a judge at the Tennessee Valley BEST Robotics competition — my first time ever at a robotics event — and had a blast! I was part of a three-member panel that judged for two of the event’s “special awards” — the most robust robot and the duct tape award for the team that had to do the most repairs. Basically we watched the bots in action and in the pit to see how they were holding up.

Seeing the unique robot designs and watching them work was neat, but the highlight of the event was the excitement, the enthusiasm. Schools brought with them cheerleaders, mascots, pep bands, and parents all yelling and cheering on their team. It was like being at a sporting event, the mood was crazy!

A DJ kept the gym thumping (and I do mean thumping) with music. They gave us all ear plugs at judge’s orientation and I initially scoffed at it, thinking I’m young, this is cool, I ain’t wearing no stinkin’ ear plugs. But after two hours, I put them in. Even with the plugs I could still hear the music, but I could also hear myself think. My heart felt like it was beating along with the bass. Adding to the noise was the pep bands having band wars, and sometimes even playing together. And yes, kids were dancing and doing the robot. (hehe)

I was impressed by what I call the second-hand smoke affect, that the kids immediately involved in building and programming the robot were not the only ones getting excited about technology and robotics, but the music kids and the cheerleaders and so on were excited about it too. Kids were cheering for robotics teams as if they were at the state basketball or football championship! I told one of the other judges that I never did anything this cool when I was in high school!!

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