JAY — Twenty-one teams from around the state — and three from Jay — will compete at the Maine FIRST Lego League Championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Dec. 10.

Thirty teams from central Maine competed at the Western Maine FIRST Lego League qualifier at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay on Saturday.

FIRST stands for: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. 

Students ages 9 to 14 competed by designing, building and programming Lego Mindstorm robots. The competition theme was Animal Allies, with the goal of making life better through animal/human interaction.

“They need to complete missions that relate to real-life experience,” said head robot design and innovation judge Adam Gettle.

Missions such as turning a milk machine, taking a camera off a seal, freeing pandas and triggering a service dog to save a life were all part of the table competition. Along with completing missions, the teams also had to give short presentations to a panel of judges, answer any questions concerning the design and build of their robots, and perform a teamwork activity, in which the team performed a challenge unknown to them in advance. 

This was the school’s second year hosting the competition. It stems from the Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Teams, or SMART, which consists of three robotic programs: FIRST Lego League, VEX Robotics and FIRST Robotic Challenge.

High school students in the program engage in activities that enrich computer, leadership and artistic skills. The SMART program also gives students the opportunity for community service and fundraising. Students involved in the programs have a “very daunting schedule,” Dan Lemieux, technology education teacher at Spruce Mountain High and head mentor of the SMART program said.  

Beginning Jan. 7, the VEX Robotics team will have six weeks to build a robot to compete in a game that will be unknown to them until the day they start building.  The robot they build will cost between $5,000-$7,000, and students will work on it Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Saturdays, resulting in 150-200 hours of work.

“The mill towns of Jay and Livermore Falls have undergone dramatic social and economic changes in the last 20 years,” Lemieux said. 

“The mill that once employed 3,000 people now employs 800, and these are increasingly highly technical jobs,” he said. “In the next few years, the mill will need to replace retiring workers with new, highly-trained workers. Our hope is that participation on a SMART robotics team can help develop and train these highly skilled workers. The need for engineers and technical workers is — and will remain — high.”

The winning teams of the Maine event in Augusta will move on to the New England championship at the University of New Hampshire in Durham on April 5. Those winners will go to the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 26.  

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Overall Champions (max score 120)

• First Place — Smart Fun Engineers, Farmington, score 114.16

• Second Place — The Clan of Mordu, Jay, score 105.5

Other teams going to states:

• Trail Hounds, South Paris, 104.45

• Bucksfield Bots, Buckfield, 90.889

• Hartford Sumner Wolves, Buckfield, 87.506

• Hot Dogs, South Paris, 85.772

• Colossians Creators 3.17, Madison, 85.288

• LJHS Apps, Fairfield, 84.234

• Brickmasters, Bethel, 83.778

• Excelerators, Winslow, 83.418

• The Elvers, Jay, 81.408

• Robo Panthers, Waterville, 78.712

• The Husky Wizards, Jay, 78.69

• Supreme Commanders of the Robotics, East Winthrop, 78.19

• Rip Roarin Robotics, Windsor, 75.573

• R.O.B., Lewiston, 74.073

• The Seventh Sense-I see LEGO Pe, Auburn, 73.595

• MisBeeHivers, Oakland, 70.741

• Raider Robotics, Winslow, 70.418

• Sassy Seals, Vinalhaven, 67.006

• Speedy Sloths, Gardiner, 65.19 


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