JAY — Teams from Farmington and Waterville took home the top awards Saturday in a robotics competition that included 26 teams from schools across the state.

Smart Fun Engineers, the team from private school Smart Fun Learning Adventures in Farmington, had the highest score in the FIRST Lego League Western Maine Qualifier. The team also placed first in the champions category.

Lewiston Middle School team members Desma Angelides, left, Mohamed Ahmed, middle, and Nathanael Wyman watch their robot complete a task in the practice area as they make last-minute adjustments prior to competing in the Western Maine FIRST Lego League Qualifier at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay on Saturday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

IHOPZ, a team from Waterville Junior High School, had the second-highest score in the robot games. It placed second in the champions competition.

In FIRST Lego League, students ages 9 through 14 design, build and program Lego Mindstorm robots to compete on a 4- by 8-foot table. The competition challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers.

This year’s challenge is titled “Into Orbit,” in which teams perform a set of space missions.

Teams choose and solve a real-world problem relating to space exploration. Each team gives a five-minute presentation on their solution.


Franklin County Master Builders was a first-year team from Cascade Brook School in Farmington. Coach Cristi DeMarco said her team was excited that they performed two missions perfectly in one of the matches.

Melissa Finnemore raises the visor of her spacesuit to get a better look at the progress her team’s robot was making during Saturday’s competition at Spruce Mountain. She is a member of team StarFish from Fairfield. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

“The judges were impressed with their programming,” DeMarco said. “The students came up with their project idea themselves. They chose going to Titan, a moon of Saturn, and turning methane gas into water. It involved long-duration travel and life on a different planet.”

Team member Teddy Desjardins said, “I learned programming robots isn’t easy. It takes a long time.”

Member Nicholas DeMarco said, “Working together counts. Working on the team missions is fun.”

Smart Fun Engineers member Ava Ryan said she was confident about her team in the judging. Teammate Amaya Thomas was excited that their robot had the highest score in the robot matches.

Owen Schwab, a member of The Astronutz, one of five teams from Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay, said their robot was accidentally turned off during one of the playoff matches. The robot takes some time to function after it is turned on.


“I learned it is important to calm down a little bit more,” he said.

StarFish from Vassalboro won first place in core values. The Astronutz were awarded second place.

Taking first in the project was Lovell Lego Robotics. Raider Robotics from Waterville earned second place.

In robot design, Cosmic Companions from South Paris were first. Spacey Starfish from Vinalhaven was second.

Excelerator, a team from Winslow Junior High School, won the judges award.

All teams mentioned above were invited to take part in the state competition Dec. 8 at the Augusta Civic Center. Also invited were Space Nerds from Augusta; To Infinity and Beyond, SMASA and Neptune Knights from Jay; kNOw from Lewiston; The Enforcers of Poland and Planet Panthers and Galactic Gladiators of Waterville.


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