Students of the Future, Lawn School help Kent YMCA start LEGO robotics program


The Kent County YMCA in Warwick recently received a donation of seven LEGO NXT kits, a FIRST LEGO League robot game kit, general LEGO parts and several educational books about LEGO robotics thanks to Rhode Island Students of

the Future, a non-profit that engages students in science, technology, engineering, art/design and math (STEAM) through robotics, and the Lawn School in Jamestown. The equipment will allow the Y to create a robotics program as part of their “out of school time” enrichment programming.

The donation of the NXT kits allow “students to try STEM programming to see what might interest them as they set goals for their future,” said Charlotte Boudreau, the Senior Youth Development Director at the Kent County YMCA.

One NXT kit, the FIRST LEGO League robot game kit, the spare LEGO parts and the educational materials were provided by Rhode Island Students of the Future, whose volunteers previously used them to develop professional development courses for teachers and to conduct educational demonstrations, such as the November Mini-Maker Faire at Barnes and Noble in Warwick.

Thanks to funding from National Grid, the Verizon Foundation, and the Textron Charitable Trust, Rhode Island Students of the Future recently purchased several LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kits, which will replace the older NXT at demos and exhibits. Volunteers from Rhode Island Students of the Future will demonstrate the EV3 system at the Robot Block Party on April 7 at the Pizzitola Center, 235 Hope Street, Providence, an event the organization produces with an academic partner, the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative at Brown University.

“Our mission is to get robots into the hands of more Rhode Island students,” said Mary Johnson, a board member of Rhode Island Students of the Future that organizes the FIRST LEGO League program that engages more than 800 elementary and middle school students on 72 teams across the state in robotics, teamwork and STEAM learning. “We’re pleased to join Lawn

School in donating this equipment to the Kent County YMCA. The NXT may not be the newest robotics hardware LEGO offers, but it provides loads of educational value and is a great way to introduce students to creating, coding, designing and engineering.”

The Lawn School in Jamestown originally purchased 6 of the LEGO NXT kits with funding from the Jamestown Educational Foundation for use by the FIRST LEGO League teams volunteer Jack Hubbard organizes as part of Lawn School’s after school program. When they decided to upgrade to the LEGO EV3 system, the kits were donated Rhode Island Students of the Future with the understanding the equipment would be placed in a school or community organization interested in starting a sustainable robotics program.

Ella Junge, a student at North Kingstown High School and member of the RoboWolves, the team that won the 2018 FIRST LEGO League state championship, helped Hubbard and Furhana DiBiase, a volunteer who coaches a FIRST LEGO League team and serves as a Board Member of the Jamestown Education Foundation, facilitate the donation to Rhode Island Students of the Future.

“The Jamestown Education Foundation is an all-volunteer organization committed to aiding activities that inspire young minds, enrich our youth’s lives and encourage life-long learning. We are honored to be able to provide opportunities for more students to experience the challenges and fun of robotics,” said DiBiase.

“An interest in robotics can lead to interesting careers exploring Mars or the deepest parts of the ocean, helping people with difficult tasks at home or in a manufacturing setting,” said Johnson. “We look forward to seeing the cool projects created by kids participating in the Kent County YMCA’s robotics program.”


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