The 2022 Maine State Championship FIRST LEGO League Challenge was held Saturday, Dec. 3, at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay. Two members of Smart Fun Engineers, a veteran team from private school Smart Fun Learning Adventures in Farmington at back left are seen making adjustments to their robot while two other members at near left watch during one of three matches held that afternoon. The team had the highest score of the 24 teams competing. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Smart Fun Engineers, the veteran team from private school Smart Fun Learning Adventures in Farmington scored highest in robot performance at the 2022 Maine State Championship FIRST LEGO League Challenge Saturday afternoon, Dec. 3, at Spruce Mountain High School. The team won the Champion’s Award and has been invited to represent Maine at the FIRST World Festival in Houston Texas, next April.

The rookie team Smart Fun Scientists, from that school placed third in the robot games and was named Core Value Finalist.

FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] Core Values, according to information from the FIRST website include:

• Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together

• Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!

• Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.


• Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.

• Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.

• Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.

At the Maine FLL Challenge State Championship held Saturday, Dec. 3, at SMHS in Jay, SMMS student Eoghan Gochenour adjusts his team’s robot during one of the robot games. Chandler Pike, an alumni of the SMMS FLL program at right watches. Pike was one of several alumni who served as judges or volunteered in other ways. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Students, mentors and family members eagerly watched throughout the afternoon as robots moved across game fields, 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 in the gym at Spruce Mountain High School during the robot match part of the competition. A small scale version was held at Messalonski 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 SuperpoweredSM 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.”

Blue Crew FIRST Robotics Competition Team 6153 featuring students and mentors from Mt. Blue Campus in Farmington and SMHS in Jay hosted the 2022 Maine State Championship FIRST LEGO League Challenge Saturday, Dec. 3, at SMHS in Jay. Team members Mason Labonte, front left and Ava Coates are seen in their volunteer roles during one of the robot games. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Everything so far is going good, Richard Wilde, mentor for Blue Crew FIRST Robotics Competition team 6153, said. He judged that morning, didn’t have much to do this afternoon, he noted. “I am getting ready to retire,” he said. “I need to make sure the team can survive without me.”

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 [SMART] hosted one of three regional meets that determined which teams would advance to the state competition. Many SMART members also participated in FLL.

“The event went really well,” Blue Crew Mentor Rob Taylor wrote in an email Sunday. “I was really proud of the Blue Crew for their efforts in hosting the Maine FIRST LEGO League Championships. The team worked really hard to prepare and was able to not only work with the Robotics Institute of Maine to organize the event, but also arranged the playing arena, pit locations, and judging rooms for the 24 competing teams, as well as feeding all the team members, families, and fans.
“The team spent over 30 person hours just constructing game elements for the eight LEGO League Competition fields and spent all of Friday afternoon and evening setting up at Spruce Mountain High School,” Taylor noted. “The Blue Crew would like to thank all of the community businesses and individuals who made donations of food, money, and materials to help with the program and the team is looking forward to the start of the FIRST Robotics Competition program for high school students that will start next month.

Local kids who participated in FLL years ago are doing amazing things, Sarah Delaney of Livermore said Saturday. 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 enthused.

At the 2022 Maine State Championship FIRST LEGO League Challenge held Saturday, Dec. 3, at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, a variety of LEGO kits were raffled off. Pictured are Ron Erickson holding Bandit and Blue Crew FRC Team 6153 Mentor Rob Taylor. While walking, Erickson and Bandit collect returnable containers and donated some proceeds towards the raffle. Submitted photo

Program alumni are having an impact in other ways too. Tyler Ritter was a member of the SMHS Robotics and Envirothon teams and his grandfather, Ron Erickson values the programs very much, Taylor wrote. “Ron and Bandit spend a lot of time walking in the Jay-Livermore Falls area and Ron picks up discarded returnable beverage containers he finds along the way,” he continued. “He has donated hundreds of dollars of containers to support the Robotics and Envirothon programs and some of his donations were used to sponsor the LEGO Raffle at the State LEGO League Competition hosted by Blue Crew Robotics at Spruce Mountain High School.”

FIRST LEGO League challenges students to think like scientists and engineers. Teams choose and solve a real-world problem. They build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology. Teams are judged equally on core values, innovation project, robot design and robot game [only the highest score of each team’s three matches is counted].

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

Comments are not available on this story.