AMS team wins robot competition

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AUBURN — Ben Knoblach, 14, explained Monday that he built a “table clearer” out of Legos for a recent robot competition where an Auburn Middle School team won.

“It has to go around on a table and knock off eight randomly placed soda cans,” Knoblach said. His robot has light sensors that keep it from falling off the table.

The objective is for the robot to move around and clean the cans off. “It’s simulating military robots that can sense and remove things,” Auburn Middle School technology education teacher Jim Rowe said. “It’s pre-engineering without the heavy emphasis on math.”

Rowe leads an after-school team of students learning basic mechanical engineering skills in the Community Learning Center, the school’s after-school program offering academic support, enrichment and wellness activities.

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The team competed April 30 in the Maine Robotics Southern Maine Robot Track Meet in Auburn, and won the overall meet championship. Thirteen teams from 10 schools competed.

Auburn students who received first place individual awards were John Allaine and Alex Breton for the fastest robot; Ezra Thomas for the strongest robot; Harley Lombard for speed robot building; and Lucas Phillips, Colby Bragdon and Ethan Witham for the strongest bridge event.

Other Auburn students who competed, including Knoblach, were Dorian Beaulieu, Anthony Blasi, Jared Cloutier, Zachery Johnson and Cullen Lathem.

Students spent seven weeks designing and testing their entries in the CLC program. “It was really fun,” Knoblach said. “I learned there are different ways to solve the same solution. Some are better than others. It’s all about trial and error.”

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