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Students learn teamwork with FIRST

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 05. 2015 11:18PM
Fourth grade students Parker Normand, left, and Cameron Newcomb work on their robot project at the FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead Expo at Jewett Street School in Manchester on Thursday. Left, fourth-grade student Kaelianna Cruz joins her teacher, Valerie Tarbell, as she speaks at the expo. DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER 

MANCHESTER — Make it fun and they will learn.

Fourth-graders armed with Legos in the cafeteria/gym at Jewett Street School on Thursday shared how participating in the FIRST Lego League helped them learn not only how to build a robot but how to work with others.

“It was a little difficult because everyone was trying to be the boss, but there is no boss because it’s a team and a team works together,” student Samantha Dimino said during a morning event that included the governor, mayor and superintendent. “We get to work with our friends, and it’s more fun than just reading about it in a book.”

Fourth-graders at three city elementary schools are participating in a drive to increase students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math. The city hopes to expand that to all 14 elementary schools in the next year or two.

Bedford inventor Dean Kamen said technology changes fast. Take photography, when people years ago needed to get rolls of film developed to see the photos they took.

“Now, you take a selfie and it’s there before you hit a button. The people who created photography, George Eastman, would not recognize photography today, and that’s not that long ago,” Kamen said.

“The world depends more than ever on really smart people to protect us, to improve our health care. You’ve got to become those smart people, and this program is getting you to see the skill sets that you need to become that generation of smart people.”

Members of the Sweet Maple Crushers team talked about how they operated democratically on things such as selecting a team name, even if all the team members didn’t know what the word “democratic” meant.

“There was a little arguing, and we’d vote on it,” said student Devon Ranfos.

Team member Autumn Pelletier talked about how they took turns working on the robots.

Mayor Ted Gatsas said the program brings out the talents of certain students.

“The most exciting thing I heard was a teacher telling me that the students in the classroom that are somewhat quiet and reserved become the leaders when they come to these teams,” Gatsas said. “That’s an exciting thing.”And, the mayor said, “They learned teamwork and boy, there’s nothing better in life than teamwork.”Student Tyler Lehoux said his teammates followed instructions, didn’t rush and hit roadblocks along the way.

“It didn’t work, so we had to try a new way,” he said. “We didn’t give up. We persevered.”

General News Manchester

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