Robotics camp - GHS FIRST team teaches younger kids how to team up with tech


GILFORD — Loud cheers could be heard throughout the room as two newly created robots battled each other during the Gilford Robotics Camp. Through the noise and battles, a young girl said that she was having a great time at the camp, which seemed to be mirrored by the other children, ages 8 to 11, who were chanting excitedly for the robots they had made.

This summer marks the inaugural robotics camp for younger children in the community, and was created by a group of high school students are part of the Gilford High School FIRST Robotics team. Brad Parker, Connor Craigie, Noah Presby, Topher Weimann and Cameron White have all spent their high school years invested in robotics, and shared that they had a love for robotics since a young age. Eager to inspire youth to pursue robotics as they get older and raise money for their upcoming competition season, the boys were able to get approval from Gilford School District for the camp that would charge each student a small fee.

Although there were more people looking to be a part of the camp, the group was only able to accept 16 kids for the 2016 summer program, as they could only provide four robotics kits that would each be assigned a team of four kids. The goal of the week was to introduce to youth the opportunity to build robots, while focusing on teamwork. After creating their own robots, the kids would then battle them against each other, similiar to what is experienced at the high school level of robotics competitions.

"We hope that through this camp it makes kids want to get involved in robotics own the road," said Parker, who added he is glad he was able to be a part of the GHS robotics team and go to recent competitions.

Last year, the GHS robotics team won the FIRST district competition and moved onto the New England Regional Championship. Although last year's team did not have the opportunity to move on to nationals, they returned to Gilford with the Entrepreneurship Award and the Innovation Control Award. They look forward to another year of competition under the mentorship of Jackie and Chris Drever.

"Anyone in the area who wants to start their own robotics team but doesn't know where to start is more than welcome to contact us and we will help other teams figure out how to get started," said Jackie Drever.

The Gilford Robotics Team is not limited to Gilford High School students. Anyone from a surrounding community who would like to be part of the team is able to join. Meetings begin in December. For more information on how to be a part of the Gilford High School FIRST Robotics team, or how to start a robotics team can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Gilford High School and ask for Jackie Drever.

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The group of kids participating in the Gilford Robotics Camp cheer on homemade robots as the battle each other on Wednesday afternoon. (Alana Persson/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Gilford High School robotics team members and camp creators, Brad Parker, Connor Craigie and Noah Presby all said they were happy with the outcome of the camp and hope to hold it again next year. (Alana Persson/Laconia Daily Sun)

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The inaugural Gilford Robotics Camp is taking place this week, led by the members of the Gilford High School FIRST Robotics Team, who are hoping to inspire youth in the community to pursue robotics as they get older. (Alana Persson/Laconia Daily Sun)


Bad crash, minor injuries

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An elderly couple from Center Harbor escaped with apparent minor injuries on Wednesday afternoon when the Volvo Cross-Country they were driving westbound on Route 11 drifted across the roadway, off the road, struck a tree and spun around, coming to rest in the ditch and facing the direction they came from. Both the driver, a man, and his female passenger, were transported to Lakes Region General Hospital for treatment. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Keeping the lakes clean - Watershed Restoration Plan focuses on limiting phosphorus in runoff


MEREDITH — Three years in the making, a draft of the Watershed Restoration Plan for Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona was presented to more than two dozen residents at the Community Center this week.

Prepared by the Lake Winnipesaukee Association and FB Environmental Associates of Portsmouth, the plan is the successor to the Waukewan Management Plan completed in 2005 and part of what Pat Tarpey, executive director of the association, called a "lakewide" approach to preserving and enhancing water quality in Lake Winnipesaukee. The report runs to 95 pages, excluding the appendices.

"You can't hear too much about phosphorus," said Forrest Bell of FB Environmental Associates, signaling that stanching the flow of phosphorus into the lakes is the overriding theme of the plan. The report quantifies the primary sources of phosphorus loading and projects future sources of phosphorus, together with the rate at which it may reach the lakes. The sources of phosphorus are ranked in order of priority and steps to reduce phosphorus loading are recommended.

The Waukewan watershed stretched across five towns — Meredith, Center Harbor, New Hampton, Ashland and Holderness — and 7,162 acres, of which 951 acres, or 13 percent of the area are developed and 6,000 acres are forested.

Storm water run-off is the primary source of pollution in the watershed. While run-off is slowed, filtered and dissipated in forested land, where land has been developed storm water carries between five and 10 times the amount of phosphorus flowing from forested areas. Consequently development, along with recreation, septic systems and erosion pose the primary threats to water quality. Phosphorus is a common constituent of agricultural fertilizers, manure and organic wastes in sewage and industrial effluent, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A survey of the watershed identified 65 sites that significantly impact water quality by carrying sediment laden with phosphorus, the top six of which alone represent a significant share of the pollution. The plan includes recommendations for remediating these sites as well as measures for maintaining septic systems, which represent the second and third most significant source of pollution on Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona respectively.

Apart from addressing immediate issues, the plan also recommends a series of strategies to safeguard water quality in the long-term. These include applying "best management practices" to restore eroded shorelines, plant vegetative buffers and manage runoff from impervious surface as well as tailoring municipal ordinances ordinances to reduce risks to water quality.

John Edgar, director of community development said that among the virtues of the plan is that it has not only identified sources of pollution, but also recommended cost-effective means of addressing them, which for relatively modest investment will yield significant results. He said that recommendations offer the prospect of not only forestalling further deterioration of the water quality in the two lakes, but of enhancing it.