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Peaks Island Students to Hold Lego Robotics Island Celebration

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Peaks Island Students to Hold Lego Robotics Island Celebration
Posted on 10/28/2015
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Peaks Island Elementary School students don’t stop learning when the school bell rings at the end of the day. Instead, many participate in fun enrichment programs at the school’s new “After School Academy.” Now, on Friday, Oct. 30, the whole island is invited to see what students have created in the academy’s first eight-week program, “Lego Robotics.”

At the Lego Robotics Island Celebration, which will run from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the school’s gym, children will have a written description of their work as well as their “very creative” Lego robots to show visitors, said Renee Bourgoine-Serio, teacher leader of the Peaks Island and Cliff Island elementary schools.

Friday’s event also will be a warm-up for fourth- and fifth-graders, who plan to showcase their Lego Mindstorm Robots at the Portland Public Schools’ Second Annual STEM Expo, to be held Nov. 10 at the University of Southern Maine’s Sullivan Gymnasium.

Jonathan Downs, After School Academy coordinator, said the frames of the robots are made from Legos, and there are also “computers plugged into their parts and limbs.”

At the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Expo, students in grades 4 and 5 “will be using the software that comes with the robots to program them; the downloadable software on the computer features a complex and colorful interface that the kids can use to direct their creations,”  Downs said. “The robots can be told to do certain things when certain other things happen, move in any number of directions with any number of turns and spins, and even make tones, like a musical instrument.”

Thanks to efforts by Peaks Island school staff and parents, the school’s new After School Academy began this fall with a grant from the Peaks Island Fund. Currently, 28 students – nearly 75 percent of the school’s population – have been participating. The academy’s goal is to offer programs that “fuel children’s curiosity, spark their creativity, feed their minds and engage their bodies.”

Lego Robotics was the first intensive program offered. Others have included a two-day environmental arts activity in conjunction with an International Coastal Cleanup event in September. A six-week program called “Island Adventurers”  got students out into the community to explore and learn about the island. In January, rehearsals for a spring theater production will begin under the umbrella of the academy.

More programs currently are being developed. The goal is to have two or three days of scheduled activities every week during the school year, and to create a model that will become a unique, sustainable feature of the island school.