SHAHEEN AT CONVAL: Senator touts technology to give students an edge

April 29, 2011

PETERBOROUGH — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was at Conval Regional High School on Thursday to meet with engineering students and the school’s robotics team as part of a campaign to promote science and technology education.

Talking to a group of students, staff and parents, Shaheen discussed legislation she is co-sponsoring that would fund STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — programs in high schools. Schools would compete for grants for such programs.

She hopes the legislation will be included in the reauthorized version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind, she said.

She used Conval’s robotics team, which designs, builds and programs its own robots for competition, as an example of the sort of STEM programs that are lacking in many schools.

“We think this is the kind of program that every school should have access to,” she said.

STEM areas offer great potential for job growth, she said. In an interview later on Thursday with The Sentinel’s editorial board, Shaheen talked about the importance of these programs in preparing students for the changing job market.

“Low-wage jobs have already moved offshore ...,” she said. “Where we will compete is through innovation and technology jobs.”

As part of her tour at Conval, Shaheen visited an engineering classroom.

“Why don’t you have any girls in this class?” she said, looking around at a sea of boys. The funding legislation, she added later, would also award schools that work to attract girls and minority students to STEM subjects.

The robotics team showed off its robot, which the students built for March’s FIRST Robotics Competition in Manchester, going up against 1,500 students from across New England and beyond.

The students explained how they designed their robot to maneuver and complete certain challenges as part of the competition, even allowing the senator a turn at the controls.

“It’s very impressive,” Shaheen said. “Keep it up.”

By:  Abby Spegman
Source: Keene Sentinel