The robotics team at Mahoney Middle School in South Portland is set to compete in a state tournament this Saturday in Augusta.

The team, led by seventh-grade math and science teacher Julie Lefebvre, was inspired by recent eco-conscious local legislation, such as the 5-cent fee for plastic bags, that it wanted to create a robot that would do something positive for the community.

That’s why they designed a robot that would run on solar power and vacuum up the city’s parks, while automatically sorting the trash it collects into recyclables, compostables and waste for disposal.

Leading up to Saturday’s robotics tournament, the team was set to make a presentation to community leaders, parents and school district staff to explain their design.

The team, made up of Harry Weisenburger, Benjamin Teague, Drew Lewis, Lucas Lefebvre, Jada Briley, Simon Bourque and Ryan O’Hare, was scheduled to make its presentation on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the high school.

Lefebvre said the robotics team from Mahoney qualified for the state tourney during a Maine First Lego League qualifying event on Nov. 21. At the qualifier, she said, the team also earned a first place award for programming.

This week’s presentation is more about a prototype, “or what they would design if they had unlimited resources,” Lefebvre said. “But, it’s just not really practical to implement it, so for now (the robot is) just made out of Legos.”

Lefebvre is proud of her students for “identifying the problem themselves and coming up with a solution,” which they’ve dubbed as E.V.E.R., or Environmental Vacuum Eco Recycler.

According to the students, E.V.E.R. “is a robot, inspired by a vacuum that roams around public areas, like parks and collects trash. Once it’s picked the trash up, it sorts it into a pile of compost, plastic, metal, glass or leftover trash.

E.V.E.R is powered by solar panels on the roof, so it doesn’t depend on electricity. (And), E.V.E.R. would benefit everyone in our community, as well as the environment and wildlife. With E.V.E.R., taking care of waste is easy, simple and environmentally friendly.”

The robotics team at Mahoney Middle School in South Portland has qualified for the state tournament, which will be held on Saturday, Dec. 12, in Augusta. Pictured, from left, are Harry Weisenburger, Benjamin Teague, Drew Lewis, Lucas Lefebvre and Jada Briley.


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