‘Spain Park’s legacy:’ Robotics team noted for sportsmanship
Published 5:45 pm Friday, October 30, 2015
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
HOOVER—While winning the BEST Robotics tournament seven years in a row is nice, for the Spain Park High School robotics team, the competition is about more than winning.
On top of the countless hours the students spent building, programming, testing and strategizing, Spain Park’s team spent time helping peers from other schools prepare for the Oct. 9 and 10 Blazer BEST Robotics tournament at UAB.
“That’s Spain Park’s legacy,” senior Austin Peinhardt said. “We’re the sportsmanship team.”
While outreach is a piece of the BEST competition, the Spain Park team went above and beyond, completing a number of outreach initiatives.
“They took it upon themselves (to help),” Spain Park Engineering Academy teacher Scottie Wilson said. “Not all schools have the facilities we do, so we need to give back.”
Spain Park students delivered materials and supplies to 12 teams, including the competition’s 10 new high school teams; opened their model playing field for other teams to use; and mentored elementary and middle school students, introducing them to robotics and engineering.
“We’d go to elementary schools and show them our robot and talk about robotics and (the) BEST (competition) and engineering,” senior Bailey Garrett said.
In addition, the students set up a programming and troubleshooting website. Spearheaded by senior Spencer Batton, any team could submit a question and Spain Park students would find the answer.
“We set up this help hotline, (other teams) could come on there and ask questions and it would go directly to my phone,” Batton said. “It’s not just programming, it’s troubleshooting… there’s always something that doesn’t work.”
During the weeks leading to the tournament up to the night before, Batton and his teammates fielded questions from schools they would be competing against.
“The day before, I was getting all kinds of calls and texts for help,” Batton said.
A lot of troubleshooting has to do with practice, Batton explained. Batton has seven years of experience in robotics, beginning when he was a student at Berry Middle School.
“I’ve been doing this for seven years, this is where I can help (other) schools the most,” Batton said.
In addition to first place overall, the Spain Park team took first place in spirit and sportsmanship, first place for their engineering notebook, second place for their presentation, third place in marketing and fifth place for their robot.
The team advanced to the regional-level competition at Auburn University on Dec. 5 and 6, where they will face the best teams from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Connecticut.