JAY — The School Committee voted Thursday to allow a Jay High School robotic team to compete in a world championship tournament in April at Disney World in Florida.

The team earned the right to participate after winning the Southern VEX Robotic Tournament in December.

Team members are James Douglass, Nate Purington, Edward Krupp, Travis Sturtevant, Dustin Jones and Ian Gingras. They are coached by teacher Dan Lemieux.

The team has received $2,100 in grants, $1,600 from National Semiconductor and $500 from Gear Up, and has raised $450 so far toward the approximately $6,300 cost of the trip. If enough money is raised, students want to view some of the robotics in Disney World, among other places, Lemieux said.

Events are planned to help raise more money. They include a gate day on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at Verso Paper and a bottle drive the same day.

They are also putting together a raffle that includes a quilt made by Purington’s grandmother that features a tiger on fleece.

The biggest activity scheduled is a recycling project. They are looking for people to donate their old consumer electronics such as cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, digital cameras, ink jet cartridges and old jewelry. They will be setting up collection bins at Otis Federal Credit Union, the town office, transfer station and all Jay schools.

Letters have also been sent out to area businesses looking for cash donations and old consumer electronics.

Students are hopeful the recycling project will help the environment and raise money for them to go on their trip.

Team members read from prepared statement that Lemieux and some of the team put together.

They thanked teacher Rob Taylor for and his success with Lego teams over the years. Without his success and support a high school level robotic team would not have been created, they said.

Taylor along with Superintendent Bob Wall provided the seed money to buy the first robotic kit. Robotics at first was an after-school club with two high school teams and one middle school team. From the success of the club team came the creation of a new class called robotic/pre-engineering, they said. There are now two semester long classes offered with 24 students taking robotics each year.

The second major sponsor has been Gear Up, which has supported robotics from the beginning, they said. The program helped buy two additional robotic kits and pay for travel and registration fees.

To date, the program has given the robotics program more than $2,500 in support, students said.

Without the program and the budget constraints, they do not believe the robotics class would have been created.

Maine’s Gear Up program is helping to create a sustainable culture in schools that support students who are economically disadvantaged in preparing for, accessing, and succeeding in post-secondary education, according to the program’s website. Its goals include boosting academic performance and increasing the graduation rate.

The robotics teams have traveled to college campuses and competed and worked with engineering students.

They have also previously received grants from Oak Grove and Franklin County retired teachers.

Robotics is only one piece of the robotic/pre-engineering class. They also build and race CO2, miniature racing cars and participate in wind blade and windstorm challenges. Those are problem solving activities where students build and design wind turbines and platforms to compete with others students across Maine, students said.

They’ve gone from a few students working after school on robotics to multitasking classes working on many pre-engineering activities, students said.

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