Maine students put STEM skills to the test at FIRST LEGO League Championship

Hundreds of Maine students from Kittery to Frenchville came together last weekend to compete at the 15th Annual FIRST LEGO League Championship, run by Maine Robotics and held at the Augusta Civic Center.

Parents and coaches provided an audience and support for the more than 700 students who competed. In total, 73 registered teams made up of students in eighth grade and below participated by building, testing and programming robots made entirely from LEGOs to navigate and race against each other on an obstacle course.  Teams also researched and gave a presentation on a topic within the theme for the year, which was focused on learning. Other areas the teams are evaluated on include team spirit, teamwork, programming and design.

“We know that Maine students crave to learn more about technology. Officials and organizations throughout the state care deeply about increasing student engagement and proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  FIRST LEGO League is one of many supports for promising STEM youth,” said Anita Bernhardt, who spoke at the event and is the director of standards and instructional supports at the Maine DOE.

Beyond Maine Robotics, Bernhardt outlined for parents and students a continuum of organizations that support STEM learning PreK-12 including Maine Audubon, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, 4-H, The Reach Center, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, UMaine Engineering, Maine Engineering Promotional Council, Jackson Laboratory, MDI Biological Labs, Project>Login, Manufacturer’s Association of Maine and others.

In addition to the competitions, participants had the opportunity to experience the Maine Digital Festival sponsored by Project>Login and the Maine Discovery Museum LEGO room as well as view the Pine Tree FIRST Robotics “big bots” and a VEX Robotics Tournament.

For more information about Maine Robotics, visit mainerobotics.org or contact Maine Robotics Executive Director Tom Bickford at bickford@mainerobotics.org or 866-4340.

For more information on STEM education in Maine, contact Maine DOE’s Science and Technology Specialist Shari Templeton at shari.templeton@maine.gov or 624-6880.