HICKORY FLAT - Seventh through 12th graders in Benton and surrounding counties have an opportunity to participate on a community robotics team that has a history of winning competitions and earning scholarships for team members.

“BentonBots 2.0 is currently recruiting and has openings for three new members,” said team sponsor Dawn Lyles.  Right now, the team has members from Potts Camp, Ashland and Tiplersville.  “We welcome teens from any area as long as they can attend our practices in Hickory Flat on Saturdays.”

The BentonBots 2.0 are part of the FIRST (For Inspirations and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotic League. The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills that inspire innovation. Through competition and collaboration, self-confidence, communication and leadership skills are learned.

During head-to-head competitions, teams are responsible for designing, building and programming a robot to compete in an alliance format against other teams. Awards are given for competition as well as for outreach, design and other real-world accomplishments.

The BentonBots started in the FIRST Lego League level for middle school students. When team members aged out of that level and entered the FIRST Robotics League, they became BentonBots 2.0. “This coming season will be our fourth year competing in FTC (www.firstinspires.org),” continued Lyles. “In our first three seasons, we qualified for the Mississippi State Championship and we have earned awards for our programming and unique element designs. We look forward to another season of growth and success.”

Lyles says that in addition to designing, building, programming and operating robots, Bots’ members can participate in other tasks such as photography, social media, engineering notebook, outreach and public speaking.

The BentonBots 2.0 practice on Saturdays at the American Legion Building in Hickory Flat from noon - 5 p.m. during robotics season and meet occasionally during the summer. They also participate in community demonstrations, workshops and community events to showcase they robotics skills and bring awareness to the groups.

For competitions, the Bots attend two qualifying events that begin in early December. If they do well in those events, they advance to state competitions in mid-February.

If you are interested in joining BentonBots 2.0 or learning more about the team, call 662-278-9550 or email bentonbots2.0@yahoo.com

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