Pembroke students compete, teacher honored at robotics world championship
Pembroke robotics students in a competition earlier this month, getting ready for the World Championships, happening this week in Anaheim, California. (Video credit: Youtube: scidkelly)
Three teams of students from Pembroke Academy each finished in the top half of their divisions at the VEX Robotics World Championship in Anaheim, Calif., yesterday.
Their teacher and adviser David Kelly, however, walked away with a top prize: 2013 Teacher of the Year.
“It still hasn’t quite struck me yet,” he said via phone from Anaheim. “To sit in a crowded arena of 14,000 people and hear that I won, it’s fairly overwhelming.”
Kelly, who also won the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical last year from the New Hampshire Charitable Fund that he used to establish VEX teams and competitions across the region, was nominated by Pembroke senior Danielle Jacques. She said yesterday she wrote that Kelly provides his students both guidance and freedom.
“He lets ideas flow freely through the robotics team,” she said. “If we’re having difficulty coming up with something, he’ll help us, but when we have an idea, he doesn’t try to force us in another direction . . . . The only way you can get something wrong is if it doesn’t work, and if it doesn’t work, you just try again. It’s a good way to learn, and it’s something that he encourages.”
Before the end of the event yesterday, the teams, which attend from more than 20 countries, saw a robot perform the 2014 challenge.
“It was really an incredible experience walking out of the arena,” Kelly said, “because every one of the people that could speak English, you could hear them talking about the challenge course and the engineering. And all the people speaking foreign languages, you just knew that’s what they were talking about, too.”
Jacques is one of only two seniors on the team, so Kelly is confident the team will be able to repeat its championship-level performance next year.
Joe Landry and Jason White, team 134A, finished 26th in a field of 84 teams in the engineering challenge.
Josh Young, Devin St. Onge and Alicia Crichlow, team 134B, finished 30th in the 84-team arts challenge and Dyllan Dupont and Tyler Catucci, team 134C, finished 30th in the 84-team math challenge.
Landry and White also won the Amaze Award.