Students attending Seaside Schools Inc. are officially among the best of the best … again.

A team of middle school students from Seaside Neighborhood School and a team of high school students from Seacoast Collegiate High School ventured to the University of West Florida in Pensacola on Oct. 28 to compete for the Emerald Coast Hub in the 11th annual BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics Competition.

Seaside Neighborhood School earned top honors with second place in the BEST Overall award, and took home four additional awards: first place, T-shirt design; second place, spirit and sportsmanship; second place, best team; and second place, marketing presentation.

Seacoast Collegiate High School earned four awards: first place for team exhibit; first place for team interview; first place for marketing presentation; and second place for engineering notebook.

This year, more than 800 students from 29 schools in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties participated, making Emerald Coast BEST Robotics the second largest hub in the Southeast.

The theme of this year’s competition was “Saving Sea Turtles by Cleaning up Plastics Polluting the Oceans.” Teams had 42 days to build a robot, documenting the engineering process along the way.

Seaside Neighborhood School qualified to advance to the regional championship at South’s BEST Robotics competition, which comprises 16 hubs from the Southeast. It will be one of 52 teams. The regional competition will be hosted at Auburn University Dec. 1-2.

BEST Robotics Inc. (BRI) is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization whose mission to engage and excite students about engineering, science, and technology as well as inspire them to pursue careers in these fields.

Through participation in this project-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, students learn to analyze and solve problems utilizing the Engineering Design Process, which helps them develop technological literacy skills. It is these skills that industry seeks in its workforce.

Each competing team is evaluated in several categories including robot design, performance, aesthetic, team spirit, sportsmanship, marketing and presentation.

Each fall, more than 850 middle and high schools and more than 18,000 students participate in the competition. In both 2017 and 2015, Seaside was named BEST robotics award winner, a title they hope to recapture in 2018.

“We are so excited to be moving on to the South's BEST regional competition and to represent the state of Florida and the Emerald Coast Hub,” said Seaside Neighborhood School principal Kim Mixson. “This program is an awesome way to include students with a variety of interest in a STEM activity, and I am so very proud of each one of them.”

For more information on Seaside Neighborhood School, call 850-231-0396 and visit www.seasideschools.net.