FARMINGTON — Two teams at the private school Smart Fun Learning Adventures are busy programming robots and creating innovative projects in preparation for the Maine FIRST LEGO League Championship next month.
The competition will be held Saturday, Dec. 3, at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay. Blue Crew FIRST Robotics Competition Team 6153 with participants from Mt. Blue High School and Spruce Mountain, are hosting the event. Before COVID-19, Spruce Mountain hosted a regional qualifier to determine which teams would compete at the state meet. This year there are fewer teams, so qualifiers aren’t needed.
Superpowered is the name of this year’s FIRST LEGO League Challenge. Teams use teamwork, fun, inclusion, discovery, impact and innovation – FIRST Core Values – to develop a robot to complete missions during the robot games and create an innovation project solution that addresses sustainable energy.
Smart Fun has a veteran team with 10 members – Smart Fun Engineers – and a rookie team with six students – Smart Scientists.
“We call [the challenge] the energy journey,” LEGO League Coordinator Monica Allen said. “From production using windmills, solar panels through transportation, how to get energy from where it is produced to the end user.”
For the innovation project each team identifies a problem, comes up with their own solutions, Allen noted.
At competitions each team gives an oral presentation on their project for which they are scored.
Veteran team member Brett Allen said their project looked at healthier energy solutions.
Quin Ryan noted they were looking at where energy is wasted in the home and ways to recycle it.
On hot summer days it takes a lot of energy to keep things in the refrigerator cold, Brett said. The idea is to take hot air from the compressor and turn it into energy using a peltier plate, he noted.
The robot game this year includes 15 missions, each with a different task for which points are awarded when successfully completed. A team doesn’t have to attempt all 15, but is encouraged to try. The score from a team’s best match is counted. Each match lasts two and a half minutes.
“Depending on time, we will attempt all 15,” Quin said. “We split our team into three groups with each programming specific missions.”
Watch television, wind turbine, hybrid car, rechargeable battery and energy storage are the mission’s for Autumn Decker’s group.
Camaeron Fails said they tried everything except putting the waters on the post at the hydroelectric water dam.
“They were very ambitious in the beginning, had to make tough decisions at the end,” Allen stated.
The innovation project for the rookie team involves solar panels on cloudy days, Taygen Orr said.
The team is using curvy mirrors with solar panels mounted on rooftops, Clara Chaisson said. “The light goes in, bounces off the mirror,” she added.
The rookie team broke into two groups to work on the missions. Vivian Chaisson said her group is working on oil platform, smart grid, solar farm and if time, the toy factory. Taygen said her group is working on solar windmill, power plant, and the dinosaur toy.
Jill Creznic said she likes FLL as it gives her something fun to do on Wednesdays.
Programming the robot is fun, Amani Decker noted.
“I like working hard on the projects, it feels good to get them done,” Vivian said.
Clara said she enjoys the challenge but doesn’t really like getting up early on Friday.
The teams come in Friday mornings when there is no school, Allen said. Teams work with their partners on robot things during school hours Wednesday, she added.
FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
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 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.
Teams are also judged on their gracious professionalism – a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work,
emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community – and coopertition – showing that
learning is more important than winning, that other teams can be helped in the midst of competition.
“I like being able to try and get something to work, complete the mission,” Taygen said.