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GEAR Competition


Best Fever

The Story. Alas, poor Squeaky has been feeling under the weather. Squeaky* has a severe case of BEST FEVER. His system must be treated radically. Only gene therapy can cure him, his DNA must be repaired. Let's all work together to save Squeaky so he will be at his BEST for another 10 years!

* Who is Squeaky? - he(?) is the prototype robot of Ted Mahler (one of the BEST founders).

Objective. The objective of the game is for teams to use their remote-controlled machines to collect various DNA components (balls) and place them into the appropriate sorting/scoring areas on the field. The field is covered with two types of game pieces: plastic “ball-pit” balls that represent deoxyribonucleotides (DNA), and standard tennis balls that represent the PCR (Polymer Chain Reaction) Primer components. (You may have to study the Human Genome Project to understand what this means.) In addition, there are four “Hidden Gene” pieces that are initially placed on the structure in the center of the game field. Point values for the various game pieces are given in the table below.

Scoring Location Private Area
 Point Value
Shared Area
 Point Value
DNA Sorting Area 1 4
PCR Primer Receptacle Area 10 10
Hidden Gene Capture Area N/A 50

Hidden Gene

A game pieces only scores when it is placed into it’s respective scoring area as detailed in the field diagram. The position of the game piece at the end of the match determines whether or not it scores.

Overview of the game field (yes, there are really 800 plastic balls on the field!)


The field diagram indicates that teams have private and shared scoring areas. The private DNA scoring areas are behind the starting location for the machine. The private PCR Primer scoring area are located on the receptacle (frisbee) behind the team’s denaturing switch. The other scoring areas are shared between the adjacent teams. When game pieces are placed into a shared scoring area, both teams assigned to that scoring area receive the points for that game piece, regardless of which team actually placed the game piece into the scoring area. Note that for the DNA scoring area, the shared scoring areas are worth considerably more than the private areas; this is to encourage cooperation between the teams. The Hidden Genes score for all teams participating in the match.

In addition to scoring with the game pieces, activating the denaturing switch (a paddle with a light on top) scores 3 points for the team assigned to the switch. The switch only scores points the first time it is activated. The order in which the denaturing switches are activated is used to resolve ties.

Unlike past games where machines were free to roam about the game field, this year the robots are not allowed to drive on the field surface. The fixed-base, moving-arm robot configuration is typical of many industrial robots. Purely defensive strategies are not allowed and other defensive actions are subject to penalty.

San Antonio BEST Award Results:

  1. Alamo Area Home School*
  2. Holy Cross High School*
  3. W. H. Taft High School*
  4. Medina Valley High School

Competition Results:  

  1. Holy Cross High School*
  2. R. E. Lee High School*
  3. Alamo Area Home School*
  4. East Central High School
  5. Navarro High School
  6. Highlands High School
  7. Marshall High School
  8. J. F. Kennedy High School

* teams advancing to Texas BEST 

Other Awards:

  • Founders Award - 
    1. East Central High School
    2. R. E. Lee High School
  • Most Robust - Navarro High School
  • Most Photogenic - Highlands High School
  • Best Table Display and Interview - United Engineering and Technology Magnet
  • Most Spirit and Sportsmanship - T. A. Edison High School
  • BEST T-shirt - J. F. Kennedy High School

The complete seeding competition results and final competition results are also available.