The Maine FIRST LEGO League Western Maine Qualifier was held Saturday, Nov. 23 in Jay. Smart Fun Engineers team members react to their robot’s performance during the tabletop robot games. The Farmington team received the Chairman’s Award and took first in robot performance for the third year in a row. Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal

JAY — Smart Fun Engineers, the team from private school Smart Fun Learning Adventures in Farmington, has become the team to beat in Maine’s FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competitions.

On Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Maine FLL Western Maine Qualifier held at Spruce Mountain High School, the Engineers won the Champion’s Award, placed first in robot competition and earned high score in the for-fun playoff robot match for the third year in a row. The team is one of several that will compete at the state competition at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday, Dec. 14.

The Champion’s Award recognizes a team that embodies the FLL experience by fully embracing the program’s core values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the robot games and the innovation project. The playoff robot match is held while team scores from all events are tabulated and award winners determined.

In 2015 FLL was so popular in Maine that qualifying meets were held to determine which teams would participate at the state competition. Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team 3930 hosted the Western Maine Qualifier that year and every year since.

In FIRST Lego League, students ages 6 through 14 designed, built and programmed Lego Mindstorm robots to compete on a 4’ x 8’ table. During the tabletop games, students had 2.5 minutes to accomplish a set of pre-determined missions. Each mission had different point values with 320 being the highest score possible for any match.

Eight tables were set up for the robot games. Each team competed in three matches with their combined scores determining

Smart Fun Engineers, a team from Farmington, was among the 23 teams competing at the Maine FIRST LEGO League Western Maine Qualifier in Jay Saturday, Nov. 23. Team instructor Monica Allen wore a unique LEGO earring for the event. Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal

the final placings.

Engineer team advisor Sheena Thomas said between matches, “The kids had a fantastic first run on the table. They were confident during the judging this morning. It’s a fun day.”

The Smart Fun Engineers scored 285 points in the first match and 220 in the second. In their last match, they earned all 320 points. A team from Veazie scored 245 in their first match and 240 in the second but could only tally 225 points in the last one. No other team scored higher than 240 in a match.

FIRST LEGO League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. There is also an innovation project competition involving a five-minute presentation on a related issue.

The theme this year was City Shapers. For the innovation project, teams researched a problem involving a building or public space, then developed an innovative solution.

The Maine FIRST LEGO League Western Maine Qualifier was held Saturday, Nov. 23 in Jay. Smart Fun Engineers, a team from Farmington won the Champion’s Award, took first place in robot performance and won the playoff match for the third year in a row. Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal

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