Oxford Hills robotics team places second in state competition

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PARIS — For the second consecutive year, a group of eight home-schooled students from Oxford, Norway and Paris took home the second-place Champion’s Award in the Lego League competition Saturday.

Nancy Lynch of Paris, who home schools her children, said that “Pipe Patrol,” the Oxford Hills Homeschool Robotics team, took second place among 60 teams from across Maine.

The team was composed of Joseph Atwater, Nathan Cooper, Daniel Foster, Amber Lynch, Joshua Wezzels, Andy Whynot, Levi Whynot and Lucas Yates.

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

In 2016, the Oxford Hills Robotics team took home second place and was invited to San Diego to compete against 90 other teams from across the country in the North American Open Championship FIRST Lego League robotics championship.

Lynch said Wednesday that the team didn’t get any awards during the San Diego competition but “learned a lot.”

“For all of us, it was a real eye-opener,” Lynch said. “For the students, it was a sign that they could make it far and accomplish a lot with the effort they put forward.”

At the 18th annual FIRST Lego League championship in Augusta on Saturday, Lynch said, the real-world problem teams had to solve was “Hydro Dynamics.”

“The students had to find a problem in the human water cycle, identify it and come up with an innovative solution to fix it,” Lynch said. “The team chose to do frozen pipes. They found eight or nine different solutions that people currently use to tackle frozen pipes and created their own innovative solution.”

She said the students, with the assistance of a parent, came up with a theoretical model in which a sensor is inserted into pipes through a pinhole and measures the temperature of the water in the pipes.

According to the model, if the water is too cold or too hot in the pipes, an alert is sent to the cellphone of the homeowner.

She said that the 2017 team, which only featured one student from the previous year, didn’t expect to win any awards heading into the most recent state championship.

“It was a building year since so many of the students were new to the team,” Lynch said.

“The students were all shocked,” Lynch said. “They’re such a young team. The judges were going through all of the awards and we didn’t hear our name, so we didn’t expect to win anything. Then, during the second-to-last award, they announced us and we were all shocked. It was pretty dramatic.”

Lynch said that she believes the students who participate in the team are “highly motivated and have a real desire to learn,” which has lent to their success over the years.

“We have one child on the team who is amazing at computer programming and he really stepped up to the plate and shared that information with the other teammates,” Lynch said. “We are really blessed with so many talented people who are self-motivated.”

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The Oxford Hills Homeschool Robotics team, named “Pipe Patrol,” celebrates shortly after winning the second-place Champion’s Award at the 18th annual FIRST Lego League state championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday. From left are Daniel Foster, Andy Whynot, Joshua Wessels, Nathan Cooper, Amber Lynch, Joseph Atwater, Levi Whynot and Lucas Yates. (Submitted Photo)

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