By Southern Sentinel
STARKVILLE – Hickory Flat’s “BentonBots” team traveled to Starkville Nov. 10 to participate in its first competition.
The BentonBots team is a team of girls comprised of Hickory Flat Girl Scouts including Shannon Poff, Casey Poff, Elizabeth Williams, Katelyn McCallum, Rena Burchett and Sarah Cole.
The team joins competitions that require them to build a robot and then program it to complete different challenges, such as obstacle courses. The competitions help girls gain an understanding and interest in engineering, computer programming and other skills. Competitions also are team-building exercises, in which the strengths of each member can be emphasized.
Its first competition was the culmination of a lot of effort and support from various individuals. The girl scout troop worked to form a team for more than a year. Through the generosity of private sponsors, the leadership of troop leader Dawn Lyles and a lot of work from the girls and their parents, the BentonBots team formed.
Before each competition, the team designs and builds its own robot and programs it to complete missions.
The competition in Starkville was a First Lego League community event. The team underwent four judging sessions.
The first session focused on robot design. During this event, the team displayed their robot and explained their design choices.
The second session was the project session. During this event, the team performed a skit to demonstrate and explain its solution to the challenge, “Senior Solutions.”
In the third session, teamwork, the girls answered questions about how they had worked together as a team. They also performed teamwork exercises.
The last session, core values, was where they shared information about how they follow First Lego League’s core value on their team and in their daily lives. Some of those values include: “We know our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together” and “what we discover is more important than what we win.”
After the judging session, the team competed in three rounds in which they ran their autonomous robot to complete as many missions as possible in 150 seconds.
The FLL competitions are intended to center not on beating other teams, but on reaching personal potential, working as a team and having a positive attitude. The BentonBots won the Spirit Award for having a positive attitude and cheering for the other teams.
According to Lyles, the BentonBots received compliments from many judges and other participants for their robot design and their project.
The team is preparing for the Mississippi state competition to be held in Hattiesburg on Dec. 1.