Bonny Eagle, Baxter Academy robotics teams win big at out-of-state contests

Robotics teams from Bonny Eagle High School and Baxter Academy for Technology and Science have brought big awards back to Maine.

The Bonny Eagle Robotics Team (BERT) has won the 2015 FIRST Safety Animation Award. Sponsored by Underwriter’s Laboratories, this award recognizes the team that submits a short animated film that best promotes the current season’s team safety focus. BERT’s 40 second animation was selected from 198 other safety videos made by robotics teams from around the world. BERT will receive a trophy and the animation will be shown at more than 100 FIRST Events internationally. Their winning video was self-directed, created and produced by the team’s student media production crew.

The Bonny Eagle robotics program, established in 1996, consists of 32 high school students, and is affiliated with the National Organization, FIRST, which is an acronym “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”  The goal of FIRST is to help high school students to become more involved with STEM—science, technology, engineering and math. For more information about BERT, visit www.bert133.org or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BERT133. An additional video the team developed on virtual realities is available for viewing here.

Meanwhile, Baxter Academy for Technology and Science’s First Robotics team, the Outliers, took first place in its inaugural competitive outing at the North Shore District Competition held March 7 and 8 in Reading, Mass. It emerged as the top-ranked Maine team and is currently ranked 14th overall in New England, 36 places above the next rookie team.

The Outliers team, dubbed a “powerhouse rookie” by the event emcee, was also awarded the judges’ Rookie Inspiration Award.

In tournament play, the rookie team was chosen for a fourth-seed alliance by two of the most seasoned teams, Overclocked, the top-ranked New England team, sponsored by Boston University Academy, and R.A.G.E. a consolidated team from Tolland, Conn. The three-team alliance dominated quarter- and semi-final rounds. In the finals, it hung on after an early loss to secure the championship 2 matches to 1.

The Outliers First Robotics team is open to all area students, regardless of whether they attend Baxter Academy. In its rookie year, the team includes students from Baxter and Cheverus High School. Project manager for the Outliers is Baxter junior Erin Whitney, of South Portland. Captain of the drive team is Portland’s Parker Montano, a senior at Cheverus. Captain of the pit crew is Tristram Howard, a Baxter junior from South Portland. Co-captains of programming are Baxter junior Ezra Thomas, of Auburn, and Baxter freshman Julian Bernard, of Portland.

The team was fortunate to have generous support from experienced Maine teams. The Gardiner Iron Tigers provided encouragement, mentorship and parts at the competition. The South Portland Riot Crew shared their practice field with local teams, including the Outliers. For more information about Baxter Academy, a public charter school in Portland now in its second year, visit http://baxter-academy.org/.

Both BERT and the Outliers will join dozens of other top robotics teams from across the Northeast to complete in the Pine Tree District competition March 12-14 in Lewiston. More information about the event, which qualifies teams for the regional tournament in Worcester, Mass., is available at http://pinetreedistrict.org/.