BEST stands for Boosting Engineering Science and Technology, and is a national program with fifty local competition sites in eighteen states. It is administered by BEST Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization, that sets curriculum and competition standards. The mission of BEST is to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through participation in a competitive robotics program that fosters knowledge, teamwork, and communication. A major tenet of the program is that it is free to schools; there is no cost for robotics materials nor to enter a team.
Each year, middle and high school student teams are tasked with building a robot to compete against other schools in that year's challenge. Each challenge is based on an educational model. Previous models include "Just Plane Crazy", in which students learned about aeronautics and built a simple model airplane with their robot; and "Total Recall" in which students studied six-sigma to optimize manufacturing.
The robotics competition is a high-energy sports-like environment but good sportsmanship is essential. Student-driven robots compete against the challenges of the game, not other robots. Each year's game theme and playing field is revealed in mid-September. Teams are given six weeks to design and build their robot before entering their local competition.
In addition to robotics, the most coveted award of the program is the BEST Award. To compete, students must provide an engineering notebook, give an oral marketing presentation, construct an educational exhibit, and show excellent team spirit and sportsmanship. BEST uses the excitement of robotics to teach engineering and business processes.