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August 24. 2014 10:52PM

Manchester fourth-graders may get crack at robotics

MANCHESTER — Fourth-graders in Manchester could soon be getting hands-on learning about robotics.

The program partners Manchester inventor Dean Kamen’s FIRST initiative and the SEE Science Center and would come at no cost to the city school district, Mayor Ted Gatsas said.

“We’ve worked out a mutual agreement that I think is very exciting,” Gatsas said.

A full proposal is on the agenda for the Board of School Committee meeting tonight.

If the board approves, the program would give fourth-graders a full day at See Science Center for activities including an introduction to basic robot design, programming and the FIRST LEGO League. Classes in three selected schools would be broken into small teams to spend 90 to 120 minutes a week on activities.

The plan also mentions the possibility of a citywide expo at the end of the school year for kids to demonstrate what they have learned.

The mayor is calling the proposal “STEAM Ahead Jr.”

The STEAM Ahead NH program begins this fall at Manchester High School West. Its goal is to get students on career tracks in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

“Producing STEAM Ahead Jr. is a big issue,” Gatsas said. “Hopefully we can have the board approve it so students can start in September.”

Kamen founded FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. The FIRST Robotics Challenge has grown into an international competition for high schoolers. The FIRST LEGO League was created for younger students.

Also on the agenda are a presentation concerning the district’s driver education program and the final draft of the Manchester Academic Standards. The board approved the standards during a meeting Aug. 11, despite public comments from opponents who told the board the standards were similar to Common Core.

dalden@unionleader.com


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