Portland School Notebook: March 21

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Baxter Academy excels at robotics competition

Baxter Academy for Technology and Science’s robotics team, the Outliers, won its opening weekend of alliance play at FIRST Robotics’ Granite State district event on March 4 in Windham, New Hampshire. It also won an engineering award for its robot, Greta. The team comes out of the event ranked fourth in New England.

Judges also awarded the team the Excellence in Engineering Award, noting that “the team’s robot exemplifies elegance, functionality, and reliability. Alongside clean, organized routing of their wires and tubes, the open design allowed for improved maintainability. They brought along a “just-in-time” manufacturing capability to reproduce single-use components on demand. In addition to fail-safes, safe-fails were incorporated into their design. They are truly the Outliers for this award.”

The Outliers were on the floor again at the Southern Connecticut District Event on March 16, after which they remained in fourth place, and will be at Maine’s Pine Tree district event March 23 in Lewiston.

Local students on the team include Julian Bernard, Joslyn Schwieterman, Olivia Scola, Emmalyn Armstrong, Elwen Bernard and Spencer Doughty.

Baxter engineering teacher and team mentor, Jonathan Amory, noted that the team “stayed focused and kept improving despite a difficult schedule. They made modifications in the training room throughout the weekend.” During the finals, an arm broke on the robot, but the Outliers’ alliance still managed to win with strong play by its alliance team members, the Cruising Crusaders from Manchester, New Hampshire, and the Lumberjacks, from Concord, New Hampshire. Between matches, the Outliers made a five-minute repair to replace the arm, and the alliance went on to win the final match.

The Outliers are a 4-year-old team who last year became the first Maine team to reach the highest level of FIRST Robotics’ World competition. The team emerged from the season ranked fourth in the world. The team benefits from a strong push among Maine schools to compete in FIRST. All four Maine teams at the Granite State Event played in the finals round. 

Baxter Academy is a public charter school with students who attend school in Portland daily, commuting from 66 Maine towns. The Outliers live in 14 Maine towns.

Poetry Out Loud Southern Regional Finalists are, from left, Allan Monga, Deering High School; Abbie vanLuling, Gorham High School; Emma Lombardo, Westbrook High School; Richard Hilscher, North Yarmouth Academy; and Wyatt Bates, Yarmouth High School.

King Middle School student Jack Fink served as an Honorary Page in the Maine Senate on March 15. Fink was the guest of Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland and Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, a family friend.