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Students Learn Life-skills Through BEST

Nov. 19, 2010

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When you hear Heart of Texas BEST it means...

And it's a program centered around robotics. Becky Musil is the Director of Development for Texas State Technical College in Waco. Her presentation at the Greater Waco Community Education Summit explains hot the Heart of Texas BEST program aids students in entering the workforce in a science, technology, engineering or math related field.

This is the first year for the Heart of Texas BEST hub--the community-based site for greater Waco area schools. Students have six weeks to design and build a robot that performs specific tasks--like turning over a yellow cone--before they go head-to-head with other area teams in a competition.

Beau Sallee is a mentor for the Rapoport Academy team. Students get much more out of the competition than science and math education.

However, the BEST program began as an event for Grayson County Texas schools 17 years ago. The organization has since grown to a nationwide program with over 4,000 volunteers, 850 participating schools and 12,500 students.

TSTC is one of the partners in the Heart of Texas Hub. They provide area schools with an expendables kit--plywood, screws, duct tape--basic materials to build a robot. Each team also receives a "Brain" and controller that are later returned. Best of all, participation in this program is free to schools. However, there are incidental expenses such as food and travel.

Musil says that robotics programs like BEST are what will encourage student to pursue post-secondary education in science and technology--an area where the number of graduates is shrinking, she says.

The thought: integrating BEST, as well as other robotics programs, elementary through high school, help achieve some of The Greater Waco Community Education Alliance's goals. Specifically, robotics programs are intended to prepare students for post-secondary success, encourage academic engagement, as well as bring in support from businesses and the community.

You can find this story and more on this year's Greater Waco Community Education Summit online at KWBU.org/news. At 3 p.m. this Sunday, 103.3 FM will have a special hour-long KWBU Rewind on education. For KWBU news, I'm Jacqueline Deavenport.

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