he 2020 game loosely simulated the spread of infection within a body at a cellular level. The specific game objectives were to:

  • Reduce the spread of infection through cell identification and isolation.
  • Strategically apply a limited vaccine.
  • Perform autonomous cell sampling.

The game field consists of a 7x7 grid that includes three movable PVC isolation frames, a fixed tall isolation platform, a fixed short isolation platform, and 21 cells that are represented by 2x4 blocks. Three of the cells are infected, 12 are uninfected and will become infected if exposed to the infected cells (and not vaccinated). The final six cells are immune. The cells are visually the same but can be distinguished by the presence or absence of a number of small magnets inside the cell. A simple cell tester is provided for the spotter to check the cells that the robot returns to the tester staging area.  There are also three vaccines that the spotter may load onto the machine and one super vaccine.

A summary of the rules governing when uninfected cells become infected is as follows:

  • Any uninfected cell in the same grid space as an infected cell become infected.
  • Any uninfected cell in a grid space that is adjacent to an infected cell becomes infected.
  • Once an uninfected cell becomes infected it has the same ability to spread the infection as the cell that passed the infection.
  • Uninfected cells become infected if a grid space contains more than three cells of any type.

Cells can be isolated by using an isolation frame or isolation platform as detailed below:

  • Isolation frames prevent the spread of infection across the border of the frame.
  • The top of the isolation platforms functions like the isolation frame but only when there are no cells (or vaccines) below the platform.
  • Isolation platforms may not be moved but isolation frames can be moved independent of grid spaces – that is, they do not have to be aligned with a grid space.

There are a limited number of vaccines that can be delivered to reduce the spread of the infection:

  • Simple vaccines only affect the uninfected cells in the same grid space as the vaccine.
  • The super vaccine affects the uninfected cells in adjacent grid spaces as well as the grid space that contains it.
  • Any vaccine placed into an isolation zone only affects uninfected cells within that zone.
  • Vaccines have no effect on infected cells, so even in the presence of a vaccine, infected cells will still infect cells in adjacent grid spaces.
  • Vaccines do not function for grid spaces where there are more than three cells (of any kind) present.

The super vaccine may be loaded onto the robot by the spotter after the robot has autonomously retrieved a cell from one of the grid spaces that initially held a cell and delivered that cell into the Tester Staging Area.

Scoring is determined at the end of each match by establishing the number of newly infected cells, uninfected cells, and vaccinated cells. The score starts with a 200-point offset and there is a minimum score of zero.  The classifications in the table are determined at the end of the match after the infection spread is determined.

Location Newly Infected Uninfected Vaccinated
Grid Space   -10 +10 +20
Isolation Frame  -15 +15 +40 
Low Isolation Platform -25  +25  +50 
High Isolation Platform  -40  +40  +80 


There is also a 200-point bonus for placing all three infected cells in the same isolation zone with no other cells present.

Because the game was conducted during the COVD-19 pandemic, matches were completed at each school instead of at a centralized location with all the teams present. There were no semi-finals or finals. Teams executed six trials and the best five scores were averaged to determine the team’s overall score that was used for the final rankings.

 San Antonio BEST Award Results:

  1. United Engineering and Technology Magnet
  2. Smithson Valley Middle School
  3. Devine High School
  4. Smithson Valley High School
  5. Brennan High School
  6. Webster Area
  7. Memorial Early College High School
  8. Uvalde High School

Competition Results:

  1. Canyon Lake High School
  2. University of Texas Charter School SSPJ
  3. Smithson Valley Middle School
  4. Smithson Valley High School
  5. Brennan High School
  6. United Engineering and Technology Magnet
  7. William Howard Taft High School
  8. Somerset High School

 Other Awards:

  • Founders Award - 
    1. Devine High School
    2. Canyon Lake High School
  • Good Lookin' John Wigand Most Photogenic - Earl Warren High School
  • Critical Design Review
    1. Smithson Valley High School
    2. Luling High School

The 2020 Game Results and the 2020 BEST Award Results are available.