Grants help fuel Farmington schools robotics programs

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FARMINGTON - The Farmington School District announced on Wednesday they had received two grants to support the creation of an after school robotics program in its elementary, middle and high schools.

In October, the New Hampshire Department of Education awarded the Farmington School District with a $9,815 grant to be used to purchase robotics kits at all three schools and fund a stipend for coaches as well as competition costs.

Additionally, in December, the district received a Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant for just over $26,000 to enhance schools' technology curricula.

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) offerings will increase both in the classroom and after school, impacting some 700 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Those who choose to participate in the after school robotics club will learn about programming, build new robots, partake in area competitions, collaborate with students in other school districts and understand the impact of robotics on the workforce today and in the future.

"The creation of a robotics team at all three schools directly aligns with the Farmington School District's goal of further developing students' skills in science, technology, engineering and math," Superintendent Ruth Ellen Vaughn said. "We're so thankful to have received this funding, especially given the increasing amount of career opportunities out there in STEM related fields."

After receiving its first grant in October, the Farmington High School Robotics Club - led by teachers Shannon McCracken-Barber, Hanna Owens and Charles Trainor - began working to develop the plans to develop a self-sustaining robotics team. They secured a partnership with Great Bay Community College and work with Information Systems Technology professor Mike Harrison, who is the team's designated higher-education mentor.

High school robotics students dubbed themselves "The STEAM Makers" and are preparing for their first competition March 2-4 in Windham.

"I do this because of my friends," said Farmington High School sophomore Conner Beaton. "The people that I'm doing this with are amazing. I love them all. I wouldn't want any other team."

Students in third through eighth grade have begun meeting weekly at the Henry Wilson Memorial School under the supervision of teachers Jennifer Thomas, Brian Hall and Thomas Pringle to plan, develop, design and build Lego-based robots.

For more information about the district's robotics clubs, contact Director of Curriculum and Assessment Melissa Lefevbre at 603-775-2627 or

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