Brett Allen, front left, and Camaeron Fails of Smart Fun Engineers, a team from Smart Fun Learning Adventures in Farmington, work on their robot Saturday during the Maine FIRST LEGO League Challenge State Championship at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay. The team placed first in the robot games. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Students, mentors and family members eagerly watched as robots moved across the game field, cheered when a task was successfully completed and waited in suspense while minor adjustments were made before the next task was attempted.

This was the scene at eight game boards set up Saturday in the gym at Spruce Mountain High School during the robot match part of the Maine FIRST LEGO League Challenge State Championship. A small scale version was held at Messalonskee High School last year while no in-person event was held the previous year because of COVID-19, according to news provided by the Maine Department of Education.

The 2022 FLL theme is Superpowered and deals with sustainable energy. This year, 24 teams from 16 schools have been programming robots to complete a series of energy-related tasks during the competition’s game matches and developing innovations that will improve or otherwise aid energy sustainability in the future.

The computer for LEGO Labs, a team from Spruce Mountain Middle School, crashed Saturday morning and all of the codes for their robot were lost, parent Dan Ryder said.

“Two of the team members didn’t show; the remaining two had to decide what to do,” he noted. “Maddox (Ryder) said ‘lets figure out what we can do.’ They took part in the judging this morning, were laughing and smiling. Every run (Maddox and Avery Cook) did was better than the one before. They are in sixth place now. In the future they can only go up from here. That’s what this is all about.”

Owen Barton, left, and Grant Barrett, members of team Renewable NRG Bars from Orono, watch their robot Saturday during the Maine FIRST LEGO League Challenge State Championship at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay. Two teams from Orono were among the 24 teams from 16 schools competing this year. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Blue Crew FIRST Robotics Competition Team 6153, made up of students and mentors from Mt. Blue Campus and Spruce Mountain High School, hosted the state FLL championship this year. From 2015 to 2019 the SMHS robotics team hosted one of three regional meets that determined which teams would advance to the state competition.


Sarah Delaney of Livermore said local kids who participated in this program are doing amazing things. She continues to volunteer for robotics events even though her children are now in college or beyond.

“It’s inspiring to see where doing something like this can take you,” she said.

FIRST LEGO League challenges students to think like scientists and engineers.

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

Teams choose and solve a real-world problem. They build, test and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology to solve a set of missions during the robot games. Teams also participate in an innovation project competition involving a five-minute presentation on an issue related to that year’s theme.

Several teams from central Maine won awards, including teams from Smart Fun Learning Adventures, a private school in Farmington. Their rookie team, Smart Fun Scientists, was a Core Values Finalist. Their veteran team, Smart Fun Engineers, was the Robot Performance Winner, and received an invitation to attend the FIRST World Festival in Houston, Texas, in April.

“Things are going excellent,” Monica Allen, LEGO League coordinator for Smart Fun Learning Adventures, a private school in Farmington, said. “I’m excited to see the kids things work well. The veteran team is in first place, our rookie team is in third. The kids are really excited about that.”

Leeds Central School was the Core Values Winner this year.

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