Fryeburg Academy Robotics Team heads to state championship

HEADED TO THE STATE FINALS — Fryeburg Academy’s Parsec 12 Robotics team earned a trip to the state finals following a first and second place win at the league championships held at Cape Elizabeth High School last week. The team includes (front, left to right) Hailie Zhu ’19, Kaia Staples ’20, Artem Laptiev ’20, Tonia Zakorchemna ’19, Jessica Corbitt ’19, and Andrew Day ’21; (back row) Nico Zakon ’21, David Mar-shall ’19, Aaron Zakon ’22, Roze Schenstorm ’22, Cole Adams ’21 and Graham Schenstorm ’21. (Photo courtesy of Thaddeus Thorne, ’21)

FRYEBURG — They may have been the new kids on the robotics block, but Fryeburg Academy proved to be at the head of the class.

Fryeburg Academy’s newly-formed robotics team is headed to the State Championship after winning first place at the Southern Maine Vex Robotics League finals at Cape Elizabeth High School on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

The team originally formed as a club last year after an overwhelming interest by students. With the support of grants and the administration, the club quickly raised the necessary funds to purchase the robotics kits necessary to build and compete in the league.

“These kids have been amazing since the start,” said FA robotics coach and computer science teacher, David Sartory. “We had so much interest that we were able to form two Parsec12 teams — a name the kids derived from a Star Wars joke. They have worked really, really hard and have so much heart to keep learning and growing.”

In the VEX Robotics “Turning Point” Competition League, the game is played on a 12-foot by 12-foot square field with two alliances — one red and one blue — composed of two teams to compete in matches consisting of a 15 second autonomous period, followed by a one minute and 45-second driver-controlled period. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by high-scoring or low-scoring caps, toggling flags, and by alliance parking or center parking robots on the game field’s platforms.

“The key to our first and second place win at the finals was just pure experimentation and excellent leadership from our older students,” Sartory said. “The team decided to build a robot equipped with a double shooter, which was a real game changer for us. And, the strategic alliance with the robotics team from Greely, as well as Thornton Academy, also gave us an added advantage to secure the first and second place win.”

The Vex Robotics League State Championship competition will be held in South Portland at the Point Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 23, and will host over 50 teams from across the state in an all-day tournament.

When asked what he hoped his students were learning from the experience, Sartory responded, “Besides the obvious problem-solving and leadership skills, I think one of the proudest moments for me was on a bus ride back to campus when I overheard the group —composed of a bunch of diverse backgrounds, locations from around the world, age groups, and interests — talking about what they want to work on next and inviting each other to their homes during February break. To me, they represent the epitome of what makes Fryeburg Academy a great school.”

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