, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 5, 2013

Robotics Lab open house set for Nock School

NEWBURYPORT — The grand opening of the Robotics Lab at the Rupert A. Nock Middle School is set for Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m.

The program is well under way with a $60,000 donation from Strem Chemicals, Inc. of Newburyport that enabled the middle school to set up a state-of-the-art robotics lab this fall. The public is invited to view the enhanced learning space and see students’ work in progress.

“This is hands-on, 21st-century learning,” Michael Strem said in a press release. “This program is stimulating interest and promoting confidence in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. We are proud to provide these exciting learning tools to the school and teachers.”

Students work in pairs to design and build their robots using the latest technology, then program them to progress through an obstacle course. This is no easy task, according to educators. The robots must move forward and back, turn, avoid the “hot lava,” pass through narrow passages and perform some required tasks using light sensors and tire rotations.

“This program has the potential not only to inspire eighth-graders to pursue studies in technical fields, but also to allow the robotics program at the high school, which uses the same design software, to advance to higher levels,” Brad Balkus, technology teacher at Nock Middle School, said. “The possibility of after-school programs, the connection to engineering faculty at MIT and the possible involvement of engineering students are all additional benefits.”

Through the new program, students integrate mathematics, science/engineering, computer engineering and language arts as they explore the field of robotics. This robotics course is offered as an elective to all eighth-graders and introduces the principles of robotics and the role in which robots play in today’s technologically evolving world. Students study the principles of mechanical engineering, electronics and computer programming as they design, build and mobilize their autonomous robots.

The Newburyport Education Foundation is hosting the Robotics Program open house. For more information, email

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