GULF BREEZE — Gulf Breeze High School’s Robotics Club is among those participating in the Emerald Coast BEST Robotics competition.

GBHS’s club, along with other area middle and high school teams, will participate in the Crossfire-themed event, based on fire safety, starting 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21 at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.

The robotics competition kicked off Sept. 16 and each team received a box of parts with which to build the robot. In addition to the robot, each team competing for the BEST Award must turn in an engineering notebook, create an exhibit booth, and give a marketing presentation, similar to the process for TV’s “Shark Tank.”   

The teams have six weeks to design, build and prepare for competition day. This year, the GBHS team, along with many others, lost two work weekends (four-plus days) due to hurricane stand-downs. 

In addition to learning about robots helping in fire safety, GBHS students have learned about robots in the medical field.

Earlier this year, several students traveled to Mobile, Ala., to see how technology, including robots, enhances the medical field and human life. The students were able to practice with the da Vinci Surgical System (the latest in surgical and robotics technology), observe the Mako (a robotic-arm assisted surgery machine) in action and participate in mock surgeries.

To better prepare for and understand this year’s theme, team members Sheila Simpson, Rion Adams, Aiden Blois and Russell Reddeclilff visited the Gulf Breeze Fire Department and the Midway Fire District. The firefighters at both stations helped students learn more about firefighting and fire safety. 

Senior and GBHS Robotics veteran Marshall Rawson stated that “this year’s game is more challenging on the engineering and driver practice aspect as opposed to last year’s game which was an exercise in point strategy combined with engineering prediction.” 

According to every member of the team when asked, the most challenging part of the game this year is the time constraint made tighter from delays due to severe weather.

Despite unexpected setbacks, the GBHS team said they would be ready and strong for competition. 

“We are doing our BEST to prepare for the competition,” the team said in a statement.