LEWISTON — Two Lewiston Middle School teams placed well in a recent statewide competition that tested students for their knowledge of robotics and food safety.

A team of seventh-graders who call themselves The Fun-Guys, a takeoff on the word fungus, won a second place award in the category of gracious professionalism in the First Lego League Tournament. They studied how to prevent mold outbreaks in mushrooms.

Another student team, Blue Team Fire Swag, picked up a first place award in the category of inspiration. They studied the recent deadly bacteria outbreak in cantaloupe.

The competition, which promotes science, technology, engineering and math skills, was held Dec. 10 at the Augusta Civic Center. The annual competition is sponsored by Lego.

“This year the theme was safely transporting food around the globe. My team chose to study the recent cantaloupe contamination,” LMS teacher Desiree Spaulding said.

Her students examined what happened in the Listeria outbreak in cantaloupe last summer, when more than a dozen people died after eating infected cantaloupes shipped by Jensen Farms in Colorado. The fruit was improperly handled and stored, Spaulding said.

Both teams of students had to build robots out of Legos that performed “missions,” pretending to move products, similar to how machines and technology are used in the marketplace.

Spaulding said the experience made her students think differently about food.

“We just assume all the food in the supermarket is healthy, and maybe we should be a little more careful,” Spaulding said. That includes cleaning produce and paying attention to the news.

Seventh-grader Julia Marley, 13, a member of the Fun-Guys, said her group studied cobweb mold in mushrooms. The mold “grows from the inside out. You don’t see it until it’s too late,” she said.

A way to prevent the mold is ensuring that mushrooms are raised without too much moisture, and not too close together.

Members of the Fun-Guys team are Marley, Ben Ferrence, Donovin Hughes and Ciera Belanger. Their coach is teacher Mary Ann Methvin.

Members of the team that studied the cantaloupe outbreak are Sophie Mitchell, Sylvia Schulze, Corinne Laberge, Damon Bureau, Machaela Laramee, Elizabeth Small, Maggie Phelan, Victor So, Nathan Osgood and Andre Coachman.

Lewiston Middle School Principal Shawn Chabot praised the students for devoting hours after school on their projects. In the competition students were judged on their research, presentations, solutions and strategies.

The whole school is proud of their work, Chabot said.

“It shows how hard our staff and students work.”


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