Farmington team wins robotics competition


JAY — Students from a private school in Farmington were the big winners in the third annual robotics competition at Spruce Mountain High School on Saturday.

The Smart Fun Engineers team made up of students from Smart Fun Learning Adventures on the Fairbanks Road in Farmington won the first-place Champion’s Award, won first place in robot performance and were first in the playoffs. 

The Salty Savages of Jay took home the second-place Champion’s Award. The Flaming Tigers, another Jay team, won second place in robot performance and finished second in the playoffs. That team also won the Core Values Inspiration award.

Teams from Buckfield, South Paris, Vinalhaven, Cornville and Waterville also won awards in the Western Maine FIRST Lego League Qualifier hosted by the Spruce Mountain Area Robotic Teams. 

Other teams were from schools in Benton, East Winthrop, Fairfield, Gardiner, Sabattus and Tenant’s Harbor. Several schools had more than one team.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League program presents student teams, ages 9 to 14, with real-world problems that they research and attempt to solve. Each team chooses a project, creates a poster and gives an oral presentation to judges. 

Ten years of data show students participating in FIRST are twice as likely to major in science or engineering. They are more interested in doing well in school, take more challenging courses and are more interested in attending college.

FIRST participants have improved skills such as problem solving, time management, conflict resolution and communication. Over 75 percent of alumni are in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field as a student or professional.

Each team builds a Lego robot to complete up to 18 theme-related tasks in the robot matches. Teams may choose to attempt as many as possible or focus on doing a few really well.

The theme this year was Hydro Dynamics. Participants learned how water is found, transported used or disposed of.

Kathleen Pike of Jay said more than 80 volunteers helped at the qualifier. 

“There are a lot of three-year veterans,” Pike said. “Some parents return even though they no longer have kids in the program. Several Spruce Mountain students and alumni are here.” 

SMART advisor Dan Lemieux said, “It’s a way for high school kids to get a 21st-century education. They’re filling adult roles.”

Other awards:

Judges’ Award: System Overload, Buckfield.

Core Values, Teamwork: Noteworthy Nezinscot Nerds, Buckfield.

Core Values, Gracious Professionalism: Noble Nezinscot Nerds, Buckfield.

Robot Programming: Pipe Patrol, South Paris.

Robot Strategy and Innovation: Krazy Krakens, Vinalhaven.

Robot Mechanical Design: Robo Cougars, Farmington.

Core Values, Inspiration: The Flaming Tigers, Jay.

Project Research: The Nerd Birds, Cornville.

Project Innovative Solution: Water Wizards, Waterville.

Project Presentation: The Water Warriors, Waterville.

Volunteer of the Year: Sarah and Rick Delaney.

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Team Smart Fun Engineers from Smart Fun Learning Adventures in Farmington compete in a playoff round at the third annual Western Maine FIRST Lego League Qualifier on Saturday in Jay. The team earned the first-place Champion’s Award and first-place Robot Performance Award. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Team Robo Cougars of Mt. Blue Middle School in Farmington won the Robot Mechanical Design Award at the third annual Western Maine FIRST Lego League Qualifier on Saturday in Jay. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Salty Savages, a Jay team, won the second-place Champion’s Award in the third annual Western Maine FIRST Lego League Qualifier Saturday in Jay. Team members, in no order, are Connor Blanche, Zayne Ashlee, Jacob Bryant, Quinn Fournier and Evan Farmer. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)