Robotics Club Provides Unique Opportunities for BHS Students
It’s 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon and several students head to Mr. William Deardoff’s room for Robotics Club. Each team begins work on their respective robot, with laughs being had and music playing in the background. For many students, it’s just the activity they’ve been looking for that captures their interest and enhances their strengths.
“We are really excited to have a lot of students involved in robotics for the first time,” Deardoff said. “We are also excited with an increase in participation by girls in the team, with the prospect of an all-girl team next year to build on this interest.”
One of these young women, sophomore Jasmine Smith, said she wanted to join a club that involved building, hands on teamwork, and a technology aspect.
“The BHS Robotics Club provided everything I was looking for. I enjoy this club because I like working with others and seeing what we can accomplish,” she said. “ I think this club will help me in the future because it will improve my problem solving skills from the obstacles we come across.”
The Bennington Public Schools Foundation’s Project Funding Program funded the start up of the High School and Middle School Robotics Clubs in 2018 to purchase tools and other materials to prepare for competition. Seeing the impact it quickly had on students, the Foundation chose to continue the funding.
“This Club is a great investment and opens a lot of doors for kids,” Deardoff said. “It is completely student-driven and encourages problem solving skills.”
The group recently switched its competition level and structure to ‘Vex Competitions,’ which is the largest and fastest growing middle school and high school robotics program globally with more than 20,000 teams from 50 countries playing in over 1,700 competitions worldwide. They hope to attend competitions in the state next semester, whether they take place in-person or virtually.
While competition is a great incentive now, for some students like Jasmine, it is building skills toward future career aspirations.
“This club is giving me experience in the STEM field, which I plan to go into, and is a growing field for women,” she said.To learn more about the Foundation’s Project Funding Program, visit https://benningtonschoolsfoundation.org/project-funding/