A plan to bring clean water to Puerto Rico wins a school prize for a middle school robotics team, intent on setting up a community service project.

The students of the Greenfield Middle School robotics team were considering a community service project that they could use to enter a robotics competition competing against schools in  western Massachusetts. The catch was that the project had to involve water.

At first the class along with their sixth grade teacher Rachel Cummings thought about an idea to create access to showers for homeless people. However, the class changed plans when Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria in September.  The decided to focus on getting clean water delivered to Puerto Rico.

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Soon they were joined by a new student from Puerto Rico, who joined the robotics Community Service Learning Class, and translated the project into Spanish.  The students had developed a water purification system, but the directions for how to build the device were accessible to residents because they were in Spanish.

“It means a lot because you know you’re helping to the world,” said 11 year old William Ainsworth.

The students are documenting their water purification project with the school film club. The idea was well liked by the robotics competition judges, and they earned top honors in the community service category for their region’s Massachusetts FIRST LEGO League Alliance competition.

“We went with the intent to learn and have fun,” said Cummings, who is excited to continue to build the team, made up of students in her class.

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