By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
HILL — The Jennie D. Blake School will play host to at least 16 elementary and middle school robotics teams from throughout New Hampshire in the first JDB Robotics event on Saturday, Jan. 20.
Principal Brian Connelly said the event came about through David Kelly, a retired Pembroke Academy science teacher who lives in Hill and has been involved in robotics activities around the state for several years.
“I got an email from Mr. Kelly in the fall, introducing himself and wondering if I’d be open to him doing a robotics rollout here. I said, ‘Well, sure!’ and he explained that there are grants to get robots, and now we have three robots for the school.”
That allowed the school to put up three teams from grades 4, 5, and 6, and Connelly said two boys and two girls participate from each grade level. To make it more interesting, they will pair a fourth-grader with a sixth-grader, he said.
The students meet every Tuesday, and last Tuesday was especially important, Connelly said, because they got into programming for the first time. “They were so excited,” he said. “The hour flies by for them.”
The school already entered one competition and one team qualified for the state championships.
For a competition to qualify as a preliminary event to the state championships, it must have at least 16 teams participating, Connelly said. The Jennie D. Blake School reached that “magic number” on Thursday, and Connelly said they may reach their maximum of 20 teams by the time the registration period ends on Wednesday.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for these kids and the teachers,” Connelly said.
The Jan. 20 event will begin with qualification matches for the teams between 9 a.m. and noon, with a lunch and skills period from noon to 12:30. Qualification matches will continue from 12:30 to 1:30, followed by the final matches and awards.
The competition is open to the public with free admission, making it a great family event.
The Jennie D. Blake School is located at 32 Crescent St. in Hill.
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