A VEX Robotics team from Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone has qualified for the World Competition next month in Dallas. Pictured from left are members Evyn Lally from Ogunquit, Daniela de Paz Solis of Caribou, Chandler Pike of Jay, BaoBao Nguyen of Falmouth, Sage Santomenna of Freeport, Henry Tun of Portland, and David Kim from Orono. Submitted photo

JAY — Chandler Pike is part of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) VEX Robotics team that has qualified for the World Championship next month in Dallas.

Two teams from MSSM competed at the state meet in South Portland in March. Pike’s team was the tournament skills champion. His team paired with a team from Cape Elizabeth for alliance matches and earned the most points to become the tournament champion.

VEX Robotics is part of the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation. According to its website, “The foundation’s mission is to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, affordable, and sustainable robotics engineering programs. Through remote and in-person activities, students increase their innovative thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, enhancing their academic journey to build a talented workforce in various STEM-related professions.”

The theme for VEX Robotics competitions this year is Tipping Point. During the game part of the competition two alliances – each made up of two teams – compete on a 12 foot by 12 foot field trying to earn the most points during each match. Points are earned by scoring rings, moving mobile goals to alliance zones and elevating on platforms at the end of the match. Each robot operates on its own – called autonomous – during the first part of a match, then student drivers direct robots during the rest of the match.

“Our team was focused on winning the autonomous portion every match and possessing two goals with rings that we would park with,” Pike said in a recent email. “This allowed us to win seven of our eight qualifier matches and the only match we lost being because of a failure to execute the strategy.”

Their robot was most successful at being the first robot to grab neutral goals in every autonomous mode, Pike noted.

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“Due to an odd number of goals, even possessing just one more than the other side gave a huge advantage,” he wrote. “We never lost a race to the middle all day.”

The robot had no design flaws, had been completed and tried for two months prior to states to make it competitive, Pike noted. “There were pieces of the strategy like scoring on the top middle goal with rings that was never built so it wasn’t successful at that,” he wrote.

For Pike the most challenging part of the game was designing to intake and score the oddly shaped rings. “That was our main focus for states and continues to be our focus for worlds,” he wrote. “This challenge was seen by other teams in Maine because we were the only team consistently scoring a full goal of rings.”

The MSSM team plans to scrimmage with other Maine teams headed to Dallas, which will allow adjustments to their robots ahead of the world competition, Pike noted.

“We have lots of small gimmicks planned to give a better advantage at winning the goal race,” he wrote. “We also will just be improving what the robot already has.”

Pike’s favorite part of VEX is all the competitions he goes to and the successes he’s had with MSSM. His least favorite part is having to travel three hours minimum for any competition.


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