Return to Headlines

GNPS Launches New Elementary Robotics Enrichment Program

The Great Neck Public Schools is pleased to offer a new district-wide elementary robotics enrichment program for the 2019–20 school year. This new enrichment program supplements the innovative STEM, robotics, and engineering activities that are part of the regular school curriculum at the elementary and secondary levels for all our students.

Through the creation of five new FIRST LEGO League teams, more than 50 elementary students across the district are applying STEM and problem-solving skills through hands-on engineering activities and will participate in FIRST LEGO League competitions.

Coach Chris Baker explains aspects of the robotics challenge course to members of Team Discovery.

FIRST LEGO League is an international, education-based robotics program that challenges students in grades 4–8 to research a real-world engineering challenge, develop a solution, and compete with LEGO-based robots of their own design. The core values of the program emphasize discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, and teamwork.

The five GNPS elementary robotics teams are comprised of fourth and fifth-grade students from all four of the district’s elementary schools. This program offers a rare educational opportunity for students from different schools to work together as teammates.

Participants meet with team coaches once a week. During the sessions, which are held on Saturday and Sunday mornings, students can be found researching, designing, programming, and problem solving. This engineering process develops critical thinking, team-building, literacy, and presentation skills in a supportive environment.

In April 2019, the district announced plans to initiate an elementary robotics program as part of the 2019–20 school district budget. The district is grateful for the financial support provided through the Lewis E. Love Memorial Science Education Award, which has helped defray start-up expenses associated with the new program.

science teacher Lewis E. Love, as photographed in the 1966 edition of the North High School yearbook.  The Lewis E. Love Memorial Science Education Award was established by the Great Neck North High School Class of 1963 to support science education in the Great Neck Public Schools. Mr. Love was a beloved science teacher in Great Neck for more than 40 years who inspired many students to pursue a career in science.

The financial award was established by a group of alumni, Mr. Love’s family, friends, and supporters to demonstrate their gratitude for the deep and lasting effect Mr. Love’s teaching skill and exemplary character had on their lives.

The inaugural Lewis E. Love Memorial Science Education Award has been utilized to purchase FIRST LEGO materials and supplies that will be used for years to come as the elementary robotics program continues to grow.

“On behalf of the entire school community, we are incredibly appreciative for the funding provided through the inaugural Lewis E. Love Award,” said Dr. Stephen Lando, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education. “This very generous donation has helped our district realize our goal of providing elementary students with an authentic, hands-on engineering experience that fosters connections to real-world situations through STEM research, applications, and presentations. I cannot think of a more fitting way to honor Mr. Love’s extraordinary teaching career in Great Neck.”

The district’s new elementary robotics program complements existing robotics programs at the secondary level; Great Neck’s middle school robotics teams also compete at FIRST LEGO League challenges, and the high school robotics program participates in the FIRST Robotics Competition for grades 9–12.

The GNPS elementary robotics teams are currently gearing up for regional FIRST LEGO League competitions scheduled for February 2020. These regional competitions offer head-to-head challenges between robotics teams from across Long Island, as well as group challenges that require collaboration among teams representing different school districts and organizations.

Robotics coach Nicholas Haramis looks on as members of Team Voyager conduct research during a practice session on Nov. 16.