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County robotics students host regional competition

On November 20, 2021, Team 6004 f(x) Robotics, based at Smithfield-Selma Senior High School (SSS), hosted an in-person competition for middle school “For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" (FIRST) robotics teams.

f(x) Robotics is a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team that includes students from Johnston County public, charter and home schools. The competition hosted at SSS was for 25 FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams. The members of the f(x) Robotics team worked hard setting up, running, and tearing down the 12-hour tournament.

Seven of the team members volunteered as referees at the tournament. FLL is a middle school robotics program that encourages creative thinking among students and helps them develop problem solving skills. It encourages students to respect each other and develop leadership, teamwork, and cooperation skills. FLL teaches aspects of programming, design, and public speaking.

A number of the f(x) team members are past FLL members, which encouraged them to join FRC. FRC is a more advanced robotics program that has students build and program a 120-lb robot from scratch and drive it to complete challenges during district, state, national and international competitions.  FLL has students build robots from Lego Education kits and program them using a software made for the robots.

The f(x) Robotics team  is split into five different sections: programming, mechanical, marketing, electrical, and digital. During the November tournament, they had the opportunity to show off the team robot to nearly 500 people present throughout the day. Due to the pandemic, in-person competitions stopped in March 2020, but hybrid competitions are resuming this year with all safety precautions in place.

SSS Robotics advisor Angela jenkins said, "Organizing and hosting one of five FLL tournaments in the state was a huge honor. This tournament allowed us to highlight our county, school, and robotics program to nearly 500 people. Hosting this tournament also allowed us to highlight our commitment to STEM education."