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Programming for success

Local bank gives money to support science and technology education

Members of the Ballston Spa High School robotics team pose with one of the newest creations, Rosie the robot.

Members of the Ballston Spa High School robotics team pose with one of the newest creations, Rosie the robot.

— In hopes of increasing student interest in science and technology at a younger age, Ballston Spa National Bank has given thousands of dollars to sponsor the Ballston Spa High School’s robotics team.

The $6,000 donation from the bank, along with money earned from fundraising and corporate sponsors, will allow students to design and build a robot to the specifications of this year’s U.S. First Robotics competition. This will be the fourth year students in the district have participated in the Tech Challenge event.

“We are proud to support area students by providing access to enrichment programs such as the Robotics program at Ballston Spa Central School District,” said BSNB President and CEO Chris Dowd. “By working together with our local schools, we are confident that we can make a positive difference and help develop the next generation of leaders within our community.”

Diane Irwin, the district’s science coordinator, said the competition teaches cooperation, critical thinking and communications skills. It also gives students a head start in choosing a potential career field.

“Technology fields are very competitive now, so the earlier they can get those hands on, practical skills, the better,” said Irwin.

The school’s robotics teams have become popular over the years and the district competes in two divisions, one for students in elementary and middle school and another for high school students.

The district now has seven robotics teams for its younger students, with one team in each elementary school and three in the middle school. Those 70 students compete in the Lego League division.

In this division, the students are given Lego Mindstorms kits to build mini-robots using specifications that change each year. They also must complete a separate research project. Work begins in September and they have until the first competition in December to prepare. They are then judged on how well the team collaborated, the robot’s design, how it performs on the field and their separate research project.

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