Students from C.K. Burns School in Saco take part in a LEGO robotics acticity. SUBMITTED PHOTO

SACO SacoSTEAM, a recently established K-8 educational foundation in Saco, has awarded its inaugural grant to support the expansion of the LEGO Robotics curriculum to cover the entire fourth grade at C.K Burns school.

The focus of SacoSTEAM, a nonprofit organization, is to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics education in Saco’s K-8 school system through advocacy, community building and direct giving to teacher-initiated projects.

LEGO Robotics is exactly the type of program that SacoSTEAM wants to support more of. It engages our children in skills and teamwork that will help prepare them for a complex technological world, and because it will now be available to all fourth-grade students, it will eventually benefit every Saco student,” said SacoSTEAM Foundation President Tony Palleschi in a written statement.

Lego Robotics programs exist nationwide and deliver a hands-on curriculum designed to teach students key skills in engineering, computer science, problem-solving, collaboration and communication skills, and resilience. C.K. Burns had an existing LEGO robotics team that worked on skills and traveled to regional competitions, but participation was limited.

The $2,500 grant from SacoSTEAM will allow teachers Holly Trottier and Ann Marie Hann to expand the number of students who can participate to the entire fourth grade by paying for 6 new LEGO Mindstorms EV3 units and associated materials.

Every fourth grader will complete a LEGO robotics coding challenge,” Trottier said in a written statement.

And we’re really happy that our after school LEGO Robotics Team will be able to better tackle the competition challenges by having multiple robots running various challenges simultaneously,” Hann said.

Student Sophia Farago-Dumsch was also excited about the grant. “We have all these robots because all of us have the chance to engineer and code instead of sharing just two,” she said.

Although SacoSTEAM only funded a single project in itsinaugural year, the foundation hopes to fund many more projects in the future. More information is available at https://www.sacosteam.org/grants/. The foundation is currently in the process of raising funds from local philanthropists and businesses. Potential donors mayreach out to SacoSTEAM at [email protected] or https://www.sacosteam.org/donate/.

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