An Interview with STEM Teacher Jennifer Flood and c-Link Systems CEO and Educational Robot Expert Bill Lovell

Bill Lovell recently invited us to join him virtually at a small school in New Hampshire to meet grade-school teacher Jennifer Flood, to learn about her use of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts in the classroom. Jennifer teaches Pre-K through 6th grade to her student body of 64 students at Jennie D. Blake Elementary School.  Jennifer’s approach is to inspire her students by introducing interesting STEM concepts into the classes she teaches twice weekly. She uses a mix of educational robots and lesson programs.  In addition to using c-Link Trackbots and supporting curricula, she mixes STEAM (which incorporates art into the STEM curricula) into VEX, VEX IQ and FIRST lesson programs. She noted that a focus on wellness and creativity are also blended into her classroom lessons.

On a practical level, Jennifer advised that a lot of grant writing is involved to fund annual VEX kit purchases for her classes. Although VEX parts are not reusable year to year, she noted VEX systems kits and lesson programs are easily accessible. This is where c-Link Systems has stepped in to make a difference—by donating Trackbot kits for use in Jennifer’s classes.

Bill Lovell is CEO of c-Link Systems,, a Maine-based robotics company that produces unmanned ground vehicles for exploration of mines and hazardous areas, search & rescue, snow ploughing, terrain grading and other applications used by firms internationally. Bill has been a STEM education sparkplug for decades, and has inspired students and teachers to pursue STEM education programs and careers through curricula guides he has written and classroom-scale robot kits he has often donated to students and teachers. Bill’s curricula materials work hand-in-hand with his educational robot kits.

When we conducted the interview, Bill was completing manufacture of 25 c-Link Trackbots with carbon fiber chassis and Arduino controllers. He provides free software, and is finalizing accompanying study guides and curriculum. Trackbots are supplied as complete robots (not build kits), given the limited classroom time kids have to work with the robots. Bill noted he is working on a PS-2 controller for the Trackbots, and Blue Tooth is down the road. 

Jennifer Flood is a role model for what can be done by local teachers to support the technical education of our young students. Her approach motivates students at a young, impressionable age to set their sights on STEM-related careers, which will help ensure their future success and serve the interests of our country in an ever-more competitive world. Photos show Jennifer Flood, details of the c-Link Systems Trackbot, the Jennie D. Blake Elementary School exterior, and Bill Lovell serving as a coach with a student robotics team.
--Thomas Atwood, NREF Executive Director