LEWISTON — Robots built and controlled by high school students competed Friday in an arcade-game-themed contest at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

It was a qualifying round of the Pine Tree District FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. 

The 2018 competition is called FIRST Power Up. Two alliances of three teams each find themselves trapped in an eight-bit video arcade game. Each alliance has three ways to defeat the boss: earn points, exchange power cubes to gain temporary advantages, or climb the scale wall to face the boss. 

After the theme and game rules were announced in early January, teams had six weeks to design and build a robot to compete.

“I love this sport. It’s definitely something every high school kid should do,” Gray-New Gloucester robotics coach Steve Nystrom said. 

This is the third year his school has participated. With only seven members, every team member has to be involved in every aspect of the game. Larger teams can divide into smaller groups with each responsible for a specific component.

Nystrom said his students added sensors this year to monitor what is happening while the robot is competing.

“It’s all learning,” he said.

Daniel Lemieux, coach of the Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team in Jay, said this game involves strategizing with other teams on an alliance. Some members spent time with other teams to plan how to best meet the game’s objectives.

The Jay team won the Chairman’s Award at the Granite State Event earlier this month. Chairwoman Maddie Labonte was involved in the presentation during that competition. She learned a lot about her school.

“It improved my presentation skills,” she said.

Katie Holmes, a sophomore on the Mt. Blue Blue Crew team from Farmington, is the team’s safety captain and helped build the robot.

“Everyone’s involved,” she said. “Our robot has two ramps that can hold other robots and lift them. If our robot levitates and all three robots are in the air, we get all the points.” 

Blue Crew coach Richard Wilde said their robot lifts other robots in 8.5 seconds.

“This robot is the best one our team has ever built,” he said. “This is so much fun. It’s incredible.”

Blue Crew mentor Joel Pike said, “If you don’t know the whole game, you can hurt yourself. A team just got penalty points for pushing a robot from the other alliance.”

Matt McLean, a member of the Saint Dominators team from Auburn said he likes the camaraderie and willingness of other teams to help or share materials.

Team member Julian Rogers said he likes the social interaction and strategizing with other teams to share strengths.

“I always liked robots. Being involved is wonderful,” he said.

Forty teams from five New England states will return to the Colisee on Saturday for more qualifying rounds. Elimination and finalist rounds are set for the afternoon. Award presentations will conclude the event. 

Those interested can follow the action at www.thebluealliance.com/event/2018melew.

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Nick Welsh, left, Hunter McGlauflin and Matt Roeser of the Saint Dominators robotics team drive their robot from behind protective glass during the Pine Tree District Robotics Competition at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Friday. The Saint Dominators team is composed of students from Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Spruce Mountain High School senior Tanna Herlihy gets her team’s robot ready during the first round of the Pine Tree District FIRST Robotics Competition at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Friday. Team No. 3930 is the Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team (SMART.) (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Nick Welsh, right, and his Saint Dominators teammates react after being introduced during the Pine Tree District FIRST Robotics Competition at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Friday. The Saint Dominators team is composed of students from Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Mount Blue High School freshmen Logan Holmes, left, and Lucien Hammond look up at their score following the first round of competition of the Pine Tree District FIRST Robotics Competition at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Friday. Mount Blue’s team is called the Blue Crew. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Melissa Bamford of the Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team (SMART) listens to the rules judge prior to competing during the Pine Tree District FIRST Robotics Competition at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Natalie Luce of the Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team (SMART) keeps track of how teams are doing during the Pine Tree District FIRST Robotics Competition at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)


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