AUGUSTA — Spruce Mountain Middle School was represented by four robotics teams at the Maine State LEGO League Championships at the Augusta Civic Center on Dec. 14 and received a number of awards.

The event was hosted by Maine Robotics and 75 teams from across Maine competed with LEGO robots that students had designed, constructed and programmed. Students also had to do an oral presentation on their innovative solution to a problem based on this year’s theme, “Nature’s Fury,” which dealt with natural disasters.

The Generators, consisting of team members Hunter Baker, Elijah Blais, Peter Bussier, Trevor Haynes, Hunter Quirrion and Bryan Riley, won the judges’ award that recognized them for solid efforts in all aspects of the competition, including robot design, performance, teamwork and project presentation.

The award also recognized the team’s ability to overcome challenges. Riley became incapacitated by an illness that forced him to be housebound just prior to the competition. The team utilized their school laptops to integrate Riley into almost all aspects of the day’s competition live from his home.

During the research presentation, the team had a slide show to illustrate their innovative solution to power outages caused by winter storms, which consisted of adding AC generators to automobile engines to provide homes with emergency electrical power. When Riley’s part in the presentation came up, the team seamlessly brought him up on the screen via Skype and he was able to make his contribution, as well as participate in the question-and-answer period.

They team also scored high marks at the teamwork judging, where they had to build a LEGO model of a lunar base and decide the most essential things needed for the base. Again, the team used Skype.

Just Keep Swimming, an all-girls team consisting of Brooke Bolduc, Destiny Daigle, Tanna Herlihy, Skyler Lewis, Alana McDaniel, Hallie Pike and Sydney Schaffer, had a great day at the competition. The team’s robot was in sixth place after qualifying matches, where the robot’s best score out of three trials placed the teams for the playoffs.

Even though five robots put up better scores in qualifying, Just Keep Swimming’s robot proved to be consistent and in the first round it was able to upset all robots and had the highest score of the 12 robots that qualified for the playoffs.

With Bolduc and Shaffer at the controls, the robot scored another upset in the semifinals, knocking out the two highest scoring robots of the day. The team had a tough run in the final and ended up with second place in elimination competition.

Just Keep Swimming also nailed their research project presentation on their innovative solution to flooding on the Sandy River by Pike’s Farm in Farmington.

The team met with team member Hallie Pike’s grandfather, David, who had a levee destroyed on his property in the 1970s due to a flood caused by an ice jam. The altered flow of the river inundated 15 acres of prime farmland.

The team’s solutions included mining gravel from the river to prevent floods, constructing a hydraulic house lift to move houses out of the way of flood waters and a public awareness campaign.

They received first place overall for their project. When all scores from all the judging categories were tabulated, the team took third place over all out of the 75 teams competing.

Other Spruce Mountain Middle School teams competing included the Purple Pancake Professors, consisting of Hannah Burhoe, Cody Greenleaf, Joel Hussey and Michael Jones, whose project included the development of a model active flood mitigation barrier made from a LEGO NXT robotics kit.

Team Oblivion, including Melissa Bamford, Jared Holland, Bryce St. Pierre and Orion Schwab was ranked 24th in robotics after qualifying, placing them in the top third, and their project was on tsunamis in Japan. Sixth-grade spirit team members Joni George, Roni Jo Morrison and Noah Wells spent time developing their robotics skills this fall and supported the Spruce Mountain teams throughout the day.

There is also a “Rules Ace” competition at the event, which tests a member of each team on their knowledge of the 30-plus page rules manual and 37 online rules updates for the competition. Bryan Riley and Garret Smith passed the test and earned the award for their teams.

Team mentors who provided help this season included Spruce Mountain Middle School teachers Rob Taylor and Jay Lindsey, Verso Paper Energy Manager Joel Pike, parents Tina Riley and Kathleen Pike, grandparent David Pike, and town of Jay Mechanic Dan Latham.

Members of Spruce Mountain High School Robotics Team 3930 also provided the teams with inspiration and mentoring services. The students include senior Erik Taylor, junior Peter Chavez and freshman Rachel Pike, who each put in more than 30 hours of mentoring time, as well as other Team 3930 members.

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