Week 12: Review, Recap, Research

Congratulations!  You have completed all of the bESTology lessons for 2018. We hope that you have enjoyed them and learned something along the way. These lessons were designed to inspire and prepare you for the 2018 BEST competition – CURRENT EVENTS. This week’s lesson is designed to wrap things up and help sort out all that you have learned as you further research this year’s game theme. Even if you haven’t completed every single lesson, you can still participate in this final lesson and find it beneficial.

 Research:  bESTology in Review

Complete the table below by listing the major concepts from each bESTology lesson.

When you begin your research, you may use this table as a reference.

Week Title Key points
1 Water, Water, Water
2 Natural Resources, Our Energy Sources
3 All About Recycling
4 Currents
5** The Plastic Ocean
6 Robots in Motion in the Ocean
7 Turtles are Friends Not Foes
8** The Science Behind Plastic
9 Watersheds
10 Sustainability
11 Gyres, Garbage, and Landfills

**See the winners of our challenges at the end of this lesson.

Vocabulary Art

Throughout these bESTology lessons you have either encountered new vocabulary words or identified some key words and phrases. Make a list of these new vocabulary words and then, using the word art creator of your choice, create a picture with your word list. The example below was created with Image Chef.



Let’s Make a Graphic Organizer

At the BEST competition we find ourselves presenting a lot of information in order to share our “company” with others. A graphic organizer is a fun, simple, and creative way to share information visually. Let’s make a graphic organizer that you might use in your marketing presentation or display in your team exhibit.

An infographic is a fun way to organize information that is relatively easy to display and relatively simple for people to understand. Below is an example of an infographic about plastics.

Choose an infographic maker from the list of free choices below.  Just click on any of the sites below and you are ready to start making your own infographic. Select any of the bESTology lessons and make an infographic to showcase the information from that lesson. If you are adventurous,  make two or more infographics. Who knows? You might be able to use these in your marketing presentations or even in your team exhibit. You might also find other free infographic makers if you search the internet carefully.







Writing Component: The Research Paper

In a few weeks, we will find out what the Current Events competition is really all about. One of the components of the BEST engineering notebook is to write a research paper. The information provided in these bESTology lessons will definitely help you write this paper. While we aren’t  going to write a paper in this section (did you just breathe a sigh of relief?),  you ARE going to make an outline of all the information provided in the bESTology lessons just as if you were about to write a research paper.

The first step to writing should always be to gather your thoughts, plan what you want to say, and plan the order in which you need to say it for the best impact.  You may use whichever method you have learned that you are comfortable with.

BEST Connection: Sharing is Caring

The BEST way to learn in the BEST Robotics program is to connect with other teams. Using the information you have created in this final lesson, create a Kahoot learning game or a Quizlet assessment to share with other teams in your hub. Those teams can play your Kahoot or take your Quizlet and see how much knowledge they have gained during bESTology and what they have learned about the theme of this year’s competition.  You can take theirs too!



bESTology Challenge Winners:

Week 5: Poster on Devastating Plastic Ocean Facts

Week 8: Recycling Challenge Photo

No Winners Yet!  Send your recycling photos to bestology@bestinc.org

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing

Week 11: Gyres, Garbage and Landfills

We have mentioned the word GYRE before when discussing ocean garbage. This week we will become very knowledgeable in the subject of Ocean Gyres.

You are probably asking why this week’s topic has landfills mixed with ocean Gyres. You will learn why later.

Let’s begin understanding what a Gyre is.

According to NOAA – a gyre is a large system of rotating ocean currents.

Wind, tides, and differences in temperature and salinity drive ocean currents. The ocean churns up different types of currents, such as eddieswhirlpools, or deep ocean currents. Larger, sustained currents—the Gulf Stream, for example—go by proper names. Taken together, these larger and more permanent currents make up the systems of currents known as gyres.

There are five major gyres: the North and South Pacific Subtropical Gyres, the North and South Atlantic Subtropical Gyres, and the Indian Ocean Subtropical Gyre.

In some instances, the term “gyre” is used to refer to the collections of plastic waste and other debris found in higher concentrations in certain parts of the ocean. While this use of “gyre” is increasingly common, the term traditionally refers simply to large, rotating ocean currents.


NOAA on Gyres

Garbage patch video

An ocean full of plastic PART 1

An ocean full of plastic PART 2

An ocean full of plastic PART 3

Garbage in the ocean – That’s Rubbish

Currents, Gyres, and Eddies

Building a better landfill

Recycling Facts




Gyres – Download this blank map on the link below. Then go find a map with all the ocean Gyres and fill in the blank map. Keep this map, it is going to be important.

Free Printable world map

Make a table Like this one. Fill in the information or create your own variables. Add another component by making a graph and show your findings. ( HINT – Important)

Gyre Name Location Size Current problems related to plastic garbage

Why does the Great Pacific Gyre collect the most garbage?

Landfills – What are they?  Watch this “What is a landfill” video?

Make or find a diagram of a landfill. Label it, then explain what happens at each level. Answer the questions below.

  • What is the science behind a landfill?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a landfill?
  • Are landfills good for our environment?
  • What items are allowed in a landfill, and what items are not?
  • What is the main difference between “ocean landfills” and land landfills?
  • What is the difference between a landfill and a dump?


Does your community have a landfill? Why are we asking this question? If you search the internet, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is said to be the worlds largest landfill, even though it is in the ocean.

Can you answer these questions?

  • Does your comminuty have a landfill?
  • What are some of the biggest landfills around the country?

How Much Trash Is In Our Ocean?

Every minute, one garbage truck worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean. Yearly, a colossal 1.4 billion pounds of trash ends up in our beautiful oceans. Of this waste, much of it is plastic.”

Look at the 2 pictures below. NO, we are not promoting beer, but there are companies using products that are safe for sea creatures. We would like to use these products instead of seeing the image on the right.

What are You Going To Do About It?

You do the math….what percentage of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is plastic?

 BEST CONNECTION – Will your kit end up in a landfill?

We all know that after many years of running a BEST team we end up with extra materials. Sometimes we reuse these materials and sometimes we get rid of them. Where do our supplies end up? Do we just toss them in the garbage so they end up in a landfill or where do they go?

After writing this lesson I might think twice about how I get rid of my materials I don’t use.

What are you going to do with your unused materials?

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing


Week 10: Sustainability

As a teacher, one the hardest concepts for my students to understand is the term “ sustainability “. It seems like such a simple word and so easu to undstand, but when your are trying to explain the meaning of it and how it relates to ecosystems and environmnets, so students have a difficult time understanding it.

Lets us look at some simple definitions of the term “sustainability”.

  • a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
  • Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
  • the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed.
  • Environmental Science. The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance:



Where can the word sustainable or sustainability be used? For example, we use the word sustainable quite a lot when talking about ecology, ecosystems and environments.

The Sustainable Ocean

In the past several weeks we have focused on the problems our oceans are facing with garbage and in particular with plastic garbage. What will it take to make our oceans become a sustainable environment?  In order to figure this out we need to find what are the real problems and what are some of the solutions to these problems.

Group activity to understand the sustainable ocean

  • Use the internet or your own knowledge base from what you have learned over the past several weeks about the problem in the ocean
  • Make a list of these problems and what is being done to solve them
  • Maybe you can come up with some other problems not yet mentioned or come up with alternate solutions

Ocean sustainability meets economic sustainability

Most of us in BEST don’t live near an ocean or even live near water. Some of you haven’t even been to an ocean. Why are oceans even that important?

  • Go ahead and make a list of all the important resources that our oceans provide us with
  • Find cities or towns that rely mainly on the oceans for economic sustainability
  • There are citieas that rely on water, but there are also cities that are running out of water. Can you list some of those cities.

Listen to this song.  How does this make you feel?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the sustainable ocean

Read this news article and you will notice that there is so much plastic in our ocean that is killing our wildlife and polluting our oceans. Do we have a solution for a sustainable ocean or will we be in a position of no return? These topics have already been discussed in previous lessons but lets take a deeper look into how sustainable our oceans really are. Let’s go back to our definitions at the beginning of this lesson. Are our oceans meeting these definitions?

You tell us.

Writing Component:

Write a letter to your local congress representative or your local council or even NOAA letting them know the importance of cleaning up the oceans for a sustainable future.

Last week we learned about watersheds and how the garbage in our own neighborhood can end up in the ocean, so the problem might even start in our own backyard.

Community Connection:

We all have some type of environmental problems in our community. Some of these problems are being addressed, some of them aren’t.

  • What issues do you have that would lead to an unsustainable environment.

For example; I visited a small town near Waco today and they never had a recycling program in place. Well their landfill was filled with so many recyclable items.

  • What is your community doing to maintain or work towards a sustainable community?
  • What are you as an individual doing to help this, or what is your school doing to help these issues?

 BEST Connection – A sustainable team

Either you are a coach reading this or a member of a team. How are you going to meet the needs of a sustainable BEST team? If you are a rookie team and you want to continue, then what are some basic needs to keep you going and keeping your team alive.

If you are a veteran team, then what are you doing different to become a better team? Better, doesn’t have to be about winning. It could be about not burning yourself out and enjoying what you do, or asking for help to make your work easier.

 Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing

Week 9: Watersheds

Last week we learned all about how plastic is made and how bad it is for the environment. A very interesting post showed up on my facebook and I had to share it with you.


There has been a lot of talk in these past lessons about plastic in the ocean. Well do you really think all plastic in the ocean comes from people on beaches and boats and people throwing their trash away in the ocean?

The answer is no. SO where does all this trash come from? It has to come from somewhere.

This week we will take an in depth look at watersheds and maybe we’ll find the answer to the questions above.


Texas Watersheds

Surf Your Watershed

Watersheds, flooding, and pollution

Water Pollution

Green Living

Reduce Watershed Pollutants


Research: What is a watershed?

Watch this Video and read this short article to understand what a watershed is.

Group activity to understand what a watershed is and where the garbage and pollutants go.

  1. Make a landscape out of any material that you can find. For example, take a large piece of butcher paper and crumble it into a ball. This represents the landscape.
  2. Take a spray bottle of water or use a plastic cup with a few holes in it.
  3. Make it rain over all of the landscape and watch where the water drains to.
  4. Now add some food coloring. The is represents dirty rain water. Sprinkle it over the landscape. Observe where it drains to.
  5. Now sprinkle some soil or sprinkles over the landscape. These represent pollutants and trash. Spray again with water. Where do these all flow towards?

What are some observations you made about where the water and pollutants drain towards.

Community Connection: Surf Your Watershed

Use the internet and find what watershed you live in.

Now imagine that you are a plastic bottle or any type of plastic trash and you start your journey in your watershed. How can you end up in the ocean and what ocean can you land in?

Just like when you are searching on Google Maps for an address it gives you turn by turn directions, we want you to make a list “directions” by tracing your bottle from your address to the ocean and even see if it is possible.

Once you have done your address try a friend or relative in another state and see where it ends up.

Pollutants in Watersheds

We can’t ignore the fact that plastic isn’t the only item polluting the watersheds. Make a list of other times that can pollute our watersheds.

  1. Where do these items come from?
  2. Who is using these items?
  3. What can we do to reduce these pollutants?

Watersheds of North America

Let’s take a look at the watersheds of North America and see where they take us.

Protect your Watershed

Make a list of rivers that drain into the Pacific Ocean and contribute to the great pacific garbage patch. These might not only be North American Rivers.

List the rivers, their length and their origin.

BEST Connection – Know your neighbors

Let’s see how much you know about BEST.

Where are the BEST hubs located?

What watersheds do they belong to?

Maybe look at four or five hubs and see where they are located and what watersheds they fall under.

 Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing

Week 8: The Science Behind Plastic

The Science behind Plastic– Week 8

We have learned about recycling and the amount of plastic garbage in our oceans, as well as some ways to clean up this mess. Last week we took a look at how plastic is killing some of our aquatic friends, especially turtles. Let’s take a step back and look at the science behind plastic and why plastic is so bad for our environment.

Let’s take a look at how plastic is made.

Watch this video From Gas to Plastic

For all you chemistry Brainiacs, this one is for you. It’s also for anyone that wants to try wrapping their brain around this, but don’t let the plastic hurt you.

Polymers and plastics, Chemistry 101


Now let’s answer some questions. We want you to come up with the answers either by researching or discussing as a group. Write them down for later discussions.

  1. Can we live without plastic?
  2. How important is plastic in our lives?
  3. Is there an alternative to plastic?

Now that you have had some type of discussion, let’s get a little more detailed.

  1. What are the different types or categories of plastics?
  2. Make a list of companies, industries, business, or any place that uses plastic. This is very open so you can be as general or as specific asyou want. Make a list of the business and what they use plastic for,
  3. How are these plastics recycled?

Would you sail on this boat? Read this article.

After reading the article maybe you have an idea on how to use recyclable plastic bottles.


Science of plastics

The Dirty Dozen

Green Facts

Life without plastic

Plastic alternatives

Baby Steps

The Economics of Change

WOW! Very interesting

Friends of the Earth

BEST kit 2017

BEST Consumable Kit 2017

A Little Competition:

Here is how it works.

  • Start collecting any type of plastic that can be recycled. Weigh the plastic, take a picture of the plastic and record the weight. Let us know how you are recycling it.
  • You can submit multiple pictures.
  • There will a prize for the school that recycles the most.

Here is what you need to submit:

  1. School Name and HUB
  2. Picture of the weight
  3. Picture of the recycled materials
  4. Amount of recycled materials
  5. Where are you recycling it

Submit to bestology@bestinc.org

Community Connection:

Maybe there IS a solution –  VIDEO

The problem of plastic killing our marine friends is not something new. Companies out there are finding solutions to make their products more environmentally friendlier and less harmful. The video above gives one solution. Are there more?

See if you can find companies that are making products that are helping and not killing our marine friends.

List the company, the product and the science behind their product that makes it less harmful.

 BEST Connection:

This was last week’s BEST connection – Look at the BEST kit. Is there anything in there that can cause damage to marine life if not disposed of correctly?

If there are items you found that can cause damage to marine life, then do you have an alternative product you can suggest?

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing

Week 7: Turtles are Friends Not Foes

These turtles are amazing. Watch this video first.

We wish this was the truth about turtles, but we know it isn’t.

Below is a picture of what is really happening to sea turtles. They are in danger, endangered, and some species are becoming extinct. Let’s take a dive into the ocean and see what is happening to our sea turtles and other sea creatures.

“You See the Difference. A Turtle Does Not” –


Infographic: Sea Turtles

What is a Gyre?

Threats from marine debris

Marine species dying from plastic trash

See How It Feels to Be an Ocean Animal Stuck in a Plastic Bag 

Ocean Crusaders

Ocean plastic pollution

BEST kit 2017

BEST Consumable Kit 2017


Make a table similar to the one below. You can use this table or create your own. You are going to be researching sea creatures that are harmed by man-made materials in the ocean. We want to see your research findings. Send your table, chart or graph to bestology@bestinc.org.

We have only given you a few suggested titles in the table; you are free to add your own title headings. 

Type of sea creature

Location Material harming them “your research topic”

“your research topic”


Math and Science: Variables and Graphing

Let’s connect a little bit to math and science. Variables and graphing is a large weakness in middle and high school math and science. Students have a tough time understanding the difference between dependent and independent variables in an experiment. Take a minute to get familiar with the difference between these two types of variables.

Once you have made your table above we want you to make a graph representing your data.

Make sure you show the following:

  • Title
  • Labels on the x and y axis
  • List the dependent and independent variables

Community Connection:

View this website. Warning, it might be too upsetting for some people

Discuss as a group what you can do to help this huge problem.

It seems simple and most of us don’t live near the ocean, so what can we as a community do to help save these animals from this huge plastic garbage epidemic.

 BEST Connection:

Look at the BEST kit. Is there anything in the kit that can cause damage to marine life if not disposed of correctly?


Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing

Week 6: Robots in Motion in the Ocean

About 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans yet so much of it hasn’t been explored. This lesson is going to introduce you to the robots of the ocean. You will need to do a lot of research and become familiar with the types of robots and the jobs they are set out to do. At the end of the lesson you will try to design your own robot to do a job you learned about or even a job no one has thought about. Who knows, you might invent a new robot or maybe use this robot in the BEST competition of Current Events.

What can an oceanic robot do?

First – Brainstorm all the things a robot in the ocean could do. List any kind of work it could perform.

Then watch this video on WHAT ARE OCEAN ROBOTS

Now time for some Research. Use the internet and find as many different ways robots can be used in our oceans.


The Liquid Grid

Ocean Floor Mining

Liquid Robots

Ocean Exploration

Navy’s Sea Hunter

Ocean Depths

An ambitious startup

BEST kit 2017

BEST Consumable Kit 2017

A Blast from the Past:    Exploring the Titanic

“Hi, my name is Angus and I was one of the robots used in 1985 and 1986 on the sunken Titanic expedition”

Learn more about ANGUS and the Titanic expedition.

Now watch this video

Make your own introduction to Ocean exploration. Time to get creative. If you want to make a video you can and send it to  bestology@bestinc.org. It could get published on the BEST YouTube site!

Getting more specific about the Pacific

Lesson 5 was all about plastic in the ocean. We focused on one man and his project to clean up plastic in the Pacific Ocean. Let’s take a look at other robots and companies that are getting involved.

We need to clean up the Pacific garbage patch. Let’s look at how robots are involved in this project.

1.   World’s Largest Ocean Plastic Garbage Cleaning System – “The Ocean Cleanup”

2.   Sea Vax

3.     Underwater robot cleans ocean trash

4.   NOAA – Marine Debris Program

Community Connection:

Now that you are more aware of the Great Pacific garbage patch and how robots are involved in the cleanup, sit down and discuss ways how you as a robotics cub can contribute to this awareness and even help in the project locally. Make it real by contacting your local council and tell them you want to help.

 BEST Connection:

Look at your BEST kit, find a robot that you were interested in while doing your research, see if you can match parts of the BEST kit to parts that could be used on the robot you found.

Now try this extended challenge:

  1. Design a robot on paper, as neat or as rough as you want and explain what this robot will be doing. What its function will be.
  2. Now consider only items from the BEST kit to build your robot. Do you think it could be possible to build this robot?

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing


Week 5: The Plastic Ocean

Most of us use plastic every day in some way or another. Some of us recycle the plastic, BUT some of us just throw it away. This week we will see just how devastating plastic in the ocean really is.

Watch the video below as an introduction to this eye opening topic.

A Plastic Ocean – Video

Myth VS Reality

WATCH – Plastic in the ocean: A graphic overview

In the graphic overview you will find several myths and the truths behind each these myths.

To Do – Make a list of the myth and describe its reality.


World Ocean Day

 Fact Sheet: Plastics in the Ocean

TRASH TALK: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

How Much Trash Is In Our Ocean?

For Animals, Plastic Is Turning the Ocean Into a Minefield

BEST kit 2017

BEST Consumable Kit 2017

Become an expert, make a difference, do something about it……


The Oceans Are Drowning in Plastic — And No One’s Paying Attention

Click on this link and become the expert on how plastic is ruining our oceans.

There are several great, yet scary articles in this link that will show you what bad shape our oceans are in.  After reading some of these articles, make a poster that outlines the most devastating facts you can find. Take a picture of your poster and send it to bestology@bestinc.org.  The BEST posters will be displayed on the BEST Robotics website and at the regional championships.

Design and innovation

Can These Inventions Save Oceans From Our Plastic Habit?

Here are some very interesting innovations that we are trying in order to clean up the plastic in our oceans.

Go to this link, and learn about these inventions.

See if you can come up with an idea on how to collect plastics from the ocean. Brainstorm ideas and see if you can come up with a machine that can clean up plastic in the ocean. This is a great practice for brainstorming as you will be doing a lot of this during the BEST competition.

Foreign Help – Let’s bring it local

Click on this name, BOYAN SLAT, and read about this incredibly smart young engineer and see how he is participating in THE OCEAN CLEANUP

  1. What are we as Americans doing to contribute to the Great Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean?
  2. What can we do to help prevent this?

Discuss ways that you as an individual, you as a group of students at your school or in your community can work together to prevent this from getting worse.


Below is a poem that Brian Lieu wrote about the devastation of plastic

Brian Lieu

It never goes away…
It kills, but can’t be killed…
The albatross was full…
What’s stopping us from being full
one day…?
(We’re already fool…)
Our greatest phobia should be of it and of what it can do…
My greatest phobia should be of it and of the fact that I contributed…
Number 1 Polyethylene terephthalate Number 2 high-density polyethylene Number 3 polyvinyl chloride
Number 4 Low-density polyethylene Number 5 polypropylene Number 6 polystyrene
Number 7 Other…
What more lurks behind the darkness of Other…?
A new phobia in the development…
What more will be killed by Other…?
Fish are friends, not recycle bins…
Birds look better in the air than in the ground…
How much of the ocean will be inherited by Other…?
Underwater real estate is in demand…
How much more of Earth will be inherited by Other…?

Now it’s time for you to become the poet.

Write a small poem about the problem of plastic in the ocean.

BEST Connection

Look at your BEST kit, consumables and returnables and determine which of these could possibly land up as plastic garbage in our oceans. Once you have made your list then discuss how you can avoid this from happening.

Community Connection:  Making the difference

  1. What is the next step in plastic waste reduction? Do you think it starts with you? Us? Or does it need to come from higher up?
  2. What is your city, community, school district, neighborhood, or city doing to help with waste reduction?

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing

Week 4: Currents

This week’s lesson takes us on a learning journey through currents. Let’s explore how these three topics above are all linked.

Let’s Begin…

What do these three topics have in common?

Take a few minutes and think about how these three topics are linked then discuss with your group.

Hopefully you came up with the idea that these topics all deal with power, or energy.

Current events tell us about what is going on around the world; these topics are powerful ideas or hot topics for discussion. It’s what drives us currently. Whether it is about politics, entertainment, technology, or science, we are always watching the news to find what is happening now around the world.

Ocean currents can be extremely powerful; they can turn over boats, destroy houses close to the ocean shore, and cause plenty of erosion. Some of these currents have a lot of potential energy that can cause a lot of damage or just carry garbage or debris all over the place and pollute our oceans.

Electrical Current is the flowing of the electrons or the electricity in motion. Current is the amount of electrons that can flow through certain material. The electrical current is measured in Amperes or AMPS.

The electrical wire is a conductor and it allows the electricity to pass through it. When the current flows through the wire it creates heat which is energy. Therefore the more current or AMPS, the more heat is associated with the wire.


Understanding Ocean Currents

Motion in the Ocean

Perpetual Ocean Video by NASA

What is Electric Current?


Going Green

Electrical Grid

BEST kit 2017

BEST Consumable Kit 2017

Making a connection – GOING EXTREME

We know that electricity gives energy to power our homes, and cities. We covered recycling in lesson 3 and learned all about alternative energy. Let’s focus on electricity and how countries around the world are finding really extreme and outrageous ways to generate electricity.

Start off by reading the article YOU JUST WONT BELIEVE THIS!   See how extreme you can be and find the most outrageous ways countries, cities, or towns around the world are converting junk into electricity.


Is it possible to use ocean current to provide us with electricity? According to BOEM (Beaureau of Ocean Energy Management)

The relatively constant flow of ocean currents carries large amounts of water across the earth’s oceans. Technologies are being developed so that energy that can be extracted from ocean currents and converted to usable power. Read this article Ocean Current Energy , and see what is been done to harness the energy from the ocean currents. What are some of the barriers? What has been accomplished? See if you can solve what needs to be done to make this all happen.


  1. Find a current event that deals with CURRENTS, or any topic discussed in this lesson. Please don’t use a current event listed in the resource list.
  2. Summarize the problem, the solution, and steps taken to fix the problem. If there is no solution write down what you think could be the solution.
  3. If there is a student with an article and no solution, consider having a discussion about it.

BEST Connection:

Look at your BEST kit and determine the size of the battery in Volts, the rating of the wire used, how much current is flowing through the wires to the motors and servos.

Community Connection: THE POWER GRID

  1. What is the POWER GRID? Most cities have several choices to make when choosing an electrical company. What choices do you have in your community? Find the electrical companies and see how they contribute to the power grid and what impact do they have on our economy.
  2. Is the power grid successful, or is it ancient? Are people trying to find a solution to improve it?

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing


Week 3: All About Recycling

Recycle Icon

Are you ready to get dirty? Put on your work gloves as we dive deep into the world of RECYCLING!

Let’s Begin…

Take a look at the graph below. This was in 2017 and shows the Recycling rate for major countries around the world. Look where the United States is compared to other countries.

What are countries like Germany, Singapore, Wales, South Korea, and others doing to make them the top recycling countries?

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Why is recycling even important?
  • Why should we recycle?
  • What are the benefits of recycling?

In order to answer these question we need to understand more about recycling and the problems we face.

Watch this short video to get started


The Poop on Diaper Recycling

Recycling Fun Facts

Where did the yellow duck go in the teaser video

What’s in our Landfills?

BEST Kit 2017


What are you doing for this planet in regards to recycling? Use the three R’s and reflect on how you are reusing, reducing and recycling? Maybe you are involved in a school recycling program, a club that recycles, or just in your home.

Try this little experiment at home; all about landfills.

Materials you will need:

  1. Soil
  2. 4 Garbage Samples (one must be a piece from a plastic bottle)
  3. 2-Liter Bottle
  4. Water
  5. Plastic Spoon


  1. Use the resources provided and do a little research about landfills.
  2. Cut a 2-Liter bottle in half. Place the top portion of the 2-liter bottle upside down in the cut off bottom half of the bottle.  (The bottom serves as a stand that will help keep the model upright.
  3. Place 2 cups of soil inside the bottle.
  4. Draw a large “X” on top of the soil so that you have 4 equal areas outlined in your landfill. Place the “garbage” samples in each section on top of the soil.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining soil on top of the “garbage”.
  6. Sprinkle ¾ cup water over the landfill (this simulates rainfall).
  7. Write down your predictions about which items in the landfill will break down first and which will break down last. Give your reasoning.
  8. Place the landfills in direct sunlight.
  9. On day 3 or 4, sprinkle ¾ cup water over the landfill.
  10. After another 4 days, use a spoon to gently scrape back the top layer of dirt to expose the samples and make observations.

Which items started to biodegrade, and which items did not?

Research and Connection:

Look back at the graph earlier in this lesson and find what these top recycling countries are doing.

Try to make a connection with week one and week two and see if there is recycling being done with our natural resources, or recycling being done to enhance or convert recycling to energy, or what role does water play in the role of recycling.


Divide into groups of four or five. Decide on a topic of recycling that you want to write about. You are going to write a fictional story; each student will write one paragraph and then put the story together. Share your stories with other groups and see which is the most creative.

BEST Connection:

Your BEST kit is divided into two parts; the return kit and the consumable kit. How does BEST robotics incorporate the 3 R’s of recycling into its program? You might have to ask your school robotics sponsor to help you on this one, or if you have been in the BEST program for a long time you might know how this works.

Community Connection:

Get in touch with your city waste department. You can probably find the information you need by visiting your city’s website. Most cities have an environmental waste department. Find out what your city does to recycle and what recycling plans they have in place? What resources do the residents in your city have in order to recycle?

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing, practical application

Week 2: Natural Resources, Our ENERGY Sources

This week’s lesson will look at our natural resources and how we are using them for energy.

Let’s Begin…

So what are our natural resources, and why are they so important? Natural resources are materials from the Earth that are used to support life and meet people’s needs. Any natural substance that humans use can be considered a natural resource. Oil, coal, natural gas, metals, stone and sand are natural resources. Other natural resources are air, sunlight, soil and water. Animals, birds, fish and plants are natural resources as well. Take a look around you. You will probably see some of the earth’s natural resources right in front of your eyes. Natural resources provide us with everything we need to survive. We can’t study natural resources without learning about energy, because after all our natural resources provide us with energy. So, get ENERGIZED to learn about natural resources and energy.

BUT, will these resources be around forever? We need to stop and think about what we are doing to preserve our natural resources.


Renewable Energy 101

Clean Energy

Electric Cars

Renewable Energy

Apple or Android – I really don’t care

Non-renewable energy

Even the CIA is involved

Energy Transformations

BEST kit 2017


Look around you; make a list of all the things you see in your home that are made from natural resources. Keep this list close by because we will add to this list throughout this lesson.

As we navigate through CURRENT EVENTS, generate a chart and list words associated with the topics over the next several weeks. Be sure to add new words to your list each week.


Get clued on Natural Resources

Refer to the “Get Clued on Natural Resources” to get some background information and widen your knowledge before you move on.

Part 1 – Now that you know a little more about natural resources we can divide these resources into two main groups; Renewable and Non-Renewable.

Use this  Natural Resources page  to make a list of your natural resources and put them into the two different groups.

Part 2 – Alternative energy – we can’t survive without energy. Energy that we use for our homes, our cars, electricity, etc. comes from our natural resources. If some of our resources are running out then we need to find an alternative to provide us with the energy we need.

Make a chart listing all the types of energy we use and what is an alternative form of energy.


Try one of these topics below. If you are feeling ENERGIZED, then try both.

  1. If you could move to another country, what country would that be? Based on the Natural resources from that country, write a short essay describing why you would move there. Your essay must be based on the natural resources for that country. HINT ( the CIA is involved)
  2. Pick an alternative energy that would help your community thrive. You are the CEO of a company that provides that alternative energy. Write a speech that you will deliver to the city convincing them why they should use your company.

BEST Connection:

Your BEST kit contains many parts. Some of those parts are used to power the robot. That power is a form of energy. Look inside your kit and find the parts that are used to power the robot, directly or indirectly. Write down these parts and what type of energy they provide.

Community Connection:

In today’s modern world we use all types of energy to function. Some energy makes our lives more efficient, some energy is making our planet cleaner, and some energy is disappearing. What type of energy are you using in your homes or community? Look at how your city is taking care of our natural resources? Are there any special programs in place? Are they working with any organizations?


Think and Share (great for Middle School)

You have learned a lot about natural resources, types of resources, and all about energy. Now let’s look and see if we can find how energy is being converted from one form to another. Have a discussion and talk about the different ways, and even give examples that are around you. You can also then look at the BEST connection and talk about energy transformation in the BEST kit.

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing

Download a PDF version of this week’s lesson here

Week 1: Water, Water, Water

Our 2018 bESTology journey will shower you with information about water, and recycling, and get you ready for this year’s BEST robotics competition. So take a deep breath as we dive deep into the wonderful world of CURRENT EVENTS 2018!

Note: Each week of bESTology contains hints of the upcoming game CURRENT EVENTS. Happy searching!

Let’s Begin…

Do you ever wonder where the water you drink or the water you use to brush your teeth comes from? Do you ever think how much water it takes to fill a swimming pool or water our yards?

I think we take it for granted that when we open a faucet water will come out, or that when we come home from school we can take a nice warm shower. However, it is not like this all over the world. There are countries in Africa, where people living in small villages need to walk many miles just to fill up a few containers to bring back to their village. They must walk to the river just to wash their clothes or wash themselves. They have to boil the water they drink before they can drink it because it has so many contaminants in it. Some of these people have never had a glass of cold water, or water from a bottle.


WATER our most precious resource

Water Scarcity


The CDC knows about water

Cape Town – City in trouble


Over the past 24 hours you have used water. Create a list of all the water you have used and try to estimate the amount in gallons that you used. Then think about how you could have saved some of this water and maybe not wasted so much.

As we navigate through CURRENT EVENTS, generate a chart and list words associated with the topics over the next several weeks. Be sure to add new words to your list each week.


Cape Town, South Africa is having a terrible drought. All their water reserves are running out. Cape Town is a modern city, just like any city in the United States. But they have no water. The city is located on the ocean. Write a story where you either live in a city like Cape Town, or a village in Africa that has no water, or a water shortage and imagine what your daily life would be like.

BEST Connection:

BEST robotics has always created their projects around real world problems. Find a real world water problem besides the ones listed above and discuss this with your group.

Community Connection:

Go to your local city’s website or other local website and research where the water source for your city comes from. Get a map of your city and draw where the water comes from and where it goes to after it is used. Write down if there are any water restrictions for your area. Find out how much water your household or even your neighborhood uses. You will find this on a utility bill.

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing

Download a PDF version of this week’s lesson here