ORONO, Maine — The nonprofit organization that encourages Maine youth ages 8 to 18 to have an active interest in science, engineering, computers and technology has received seven grants to support 2008-09 programs and new initiatives.
Grants will support the purchase of technology equipment for Maine Robotics’ summer programs:
• Oak Grove School Foundation, $2,500.
• Rotary Club of Bangor, $4,010.
• The Perloff Family Foundation, $1,400,
• The Wing-Benjamin Trust, $500.
Robotics Summer Camp programs draw boys and girls ages 9 to 15 at six locations — Bangor, Orono, Portland, Gorham, Readfield and Ellsworth.
Robotics Camp provides a safe and nurturing environment where children are allowed to learn at their own pace with the help of knowledgeable and helpful adult mentors.
The program is non-competitive and children work in groups of two, and occasionally groups of three if they choose. Each group works on projects and “missions” assigned at the beginning of the day and continues through the day and into the week. As they acquire more skills, they have the opportunity to work on their own projects.
Grants also have been received from:
• The Fisher Charitable Foundation, $5,000.
• The Libra Foundation $10,000.
These will fund free state registration for 70 teams to participate in the FIRST LEGO League program in December.
FIRST is an acronym — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and was started by U.S. inventor Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway, entrepreneur and a tireless advocate for science and technology.
LEGOs are known around the world as the plastic toy developed in the 1960s. Over the decades, the LEGO bricks have moved from the toy chest and into the realm of robotic models and education.
FLL teams are composed of two to 10 children who represent schools, after school clubs, home-schoolers, neighborhoods, families and community organizations. Every year the FLL announces a new theme for that year’s tournament.
Each team works from September to December preparing for the tournament.
Teams conduct research and at the FLL tournament give a presentation based on the year’s theme. Teams build, test and program robots made entirely from LEGOs. Other areas the teams are evaluated on include team spirit, teamwork, programming and design.
Another grant received is:
• The Davis Family Foundation, $15,000.
Maine Robotics will use the grant to develop statewide online training opportunities for Maine primary and secondary teachers and robotics coaches on www.mainerobotics.org. The online training will help teachers increase their skills in the principles of robotics, engineering and computer science at no cost to them or their school district.