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Robots give teachers a lesson in programming

Union Leader Correspondent

March 07. 2018 12:04AM
Educators Ralph Arabian and Paul Hayes work on programming robots Friday at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth. (COURTESY)

PORTSMOUTH — More than 40 teachers from around the region learned to build and program robots at Great Bay Community College last week.

Parallax, a California-based education technology and robotics company, provided the training for free. Parallax created BlocklyProp.

BlocklyProp is a visual programming language with graphical interfaces allowing for an easier understanding of coding basics.

Mike Harrison, a GBCC faculty member in the Information Systems Technology Department, contacted Parallax to have it offer the training.

“I have two classes currently using this product. Students need to see this ahead of time and understand that what they are playing with in high school is not a toy; it’s viable technology. They become prepared for new careers in the Internet of Things, everything from smart appliances to self-driving vehicles,” Harrison said.

Andy Littlefield is a program manager and instructor at the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School in Exeter. He also talked about the benefits of exposing children to coding.

“This is a nice extension for kids learning how to see coding in action, especially since the world is made up of sensors. This gives them some control of that,” Littlefield said.

School staff members attending the training had fun as they worked with the kits Parallax provided.

Ralph Arabian, a technology teacher at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Mass., coded his robot so it could sense distance before it reacts and makes a 90-degree turn.

Zach Denoncour, who works for the Russell and Wentworth Elementary Schools, coded his robot so it could work via remote control.

Parallax provides free courses and webinars for educators. For more information, visit

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