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The five public elementary schools in the Bluffton area soon will receive new robotics kits, thanks to a $38,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
Sean Alford, the county school district's instructional services chief, said the kits will be ordered as soon as possible so students at Bluffton, Red Cedar, Pritchardville, Okatie and M.C. Riley elementary schools can start using them in their classrooms this school year.
The kits enable students to build robots, then program them to complete various tasks.
Alford said technology day camps the district held last summer showed robotics programs can spark students' interest in science and math.
Adrienne Sutton, principal at M.C. Riley Elementary, said her school already has a technology club that meets weekly in anticipation of the new robotics kits. Participating fourth- and fifth-graders will work with both robots and animation software.
Other students will learn to program robots during their class time in the technology lab.
"Robotics uses a lot of higher-order math skills and science concepts," she said. "You have to be able to analyze and apply the ideas to give the robots movement, to vary the speed of movement."
Superintendent Valerie Truesdale thanked the Community Foundation in a news release.
"Experiences like these that combine science, technology, engineering and math ... are critical for students to be successful in college and careers," she said. "We have robotics programs in all five high schools and are grateful for the Community Foundation's generosity, which allows us to expand the foundational program to more elementary schools."
School district spokesman Jesse Washington said some elementary schools in other parts of the county already use robotics in the classroom.