On Friday and Saturday, July 25 and 26, Booneville’s Rocky Balboabots team of six students, along with their adult mentors, left an early mark on robotics compeition.

The team competed in the Ozark Mountain Brawl at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, which consisted of 21 seasoned FIRST teams from six states, including three FIRST Hall of Fame Teams, three World Championships, and over 42 Regional Championships among them.

No one at the Brawl expected much out of this tiny team of students from South Logan County. Entering with a robot built in five weeks; the Balboabots had never competed or even practiced on a regulation field.

Competition over the two days was intense and teamwork was strong. When the dust cleared after the final, the Rocky Balboabots were a member of the second-place three-team alliance. Much like their namesake, the Balboabots had climbed from the bottom and were no longer thought of as just the rookie team.

The Rocky Balboabots are a FIRST FRC team. FIRST, "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology," is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders. FIRST engages young people in compelling and problematic mentor-based programs that expand and build science, technology, public speaking, teamwork, design, business operation and communication skills.

Started by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST now includes over 350,000 students on 32,600 teams in 40 countries. Graduating seniors have access to $20 million in scholarships from more than 180 scholarship providers.

The Balboabots embrace the FIRST motto: "We are the only varsity sport where everyone can go pro." FRC Robotics provides anyone the opportunity to excel and make a career out of it. The program encourages students’ hard work and dedication as well as provides them with the opportunity to attack a problem with a logical solution.

It’s like a video game but in 3D, say team members. Visit the Balboabot’s website at www.rocky-balboabots.org or on Facebook by searching Rocky Balboabots.