LEWISTON — The Androscoggin Bank Colisee will be like a whole other planet this weekend.

Falmouth/Gorham students cheer on their robotics team at the New England Pine Tree District Robotics Competition at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Friday. Competitions will continue through the day Saturday.

Well, that’s kind of the point. High school students representing robotics teams from all over New England wore pink and white space suits, space-themed pants, wigs and other colorful outfits to get into the spirit as the weekend competition began Friday.

Lewiston welcomed 32 high school robotics teams from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut for the Pine Tree District FIRST Robotics Competition.

Teams danced to music blaring from arena speakers or tinkered with their robots as they awaited their turn to compete. Parents and fans chanted for their teams from the stands.

This season the competition, called “Destination: Deep Space,” gives teams only two and a half minutes to use their robots to gather as many cargo pods as possible, prepare rockets and a cargo ship with hatch panels, and return the robot safely.

For the first 15 seconds of the match, teams cannot see their robots, which forces them to either use coding to pre-program instructions for the robot or to use a video device from their stations. Last year’s season was video game-themed.

The weekend tournament pits groups of teams — called alliances — against one another to judge whose robots (and which operators) can perform the best. Qualifying teams make it to a larger regional competition next weekend in Worcester, Mass.

FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a national organization encouraging students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math). It has big sponsors, including Boeing, which has sponsored this year’s space-themed season, and the U.S. Army, which had representatives on site Friday.

Falmouth/Gorham students cheer on their robotics team at the New England Pine Tree District Robotics Competition at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Friday. Competitions will continue through the day Saturday.

During the opening ceremony Friday, an Army representative told the audience that “the leaders of tomorrow are in this room.”

As soon as the the competition got underway, the arena was buzzing, not just from anxious high-schoolers but also from the audience. Fans of a team from Livermore Falls, sporting purple, waved foam noodles from the stands, and whooped and hollered as the team readied its robot.

The Saint Dominators robotics team, from St. Dominic Academy in Auburn, was among the first few groups to compete in a qualifying round. The team did well in its first go but was docked 10 points for crossing a penalty line with the robot.

“Our robot team went to plan,” said team captain Nick Welsh. “The other team played really good defense on us, which we weren’t expecting.”

Teams can play defense by blocking opponents’ robots from reaching cargo pods and other goals.

Welsh, a St. Dom’s senior, said he’s proud of his team this season and is happy with their robot, given time constraints they’ve faced. Each team, he said, is given a six-week window prior to competition season to create their robots, but he said if team members also play sports it can limit the time they can dedicate to the build.

Welsh, who has been on the team for three years, said the St. Dom’s team only started four years ago. Many of the teams represented this weekend have years of experience. FIRST teams are helped along by a number of regional mentors, which often work in STEM-related fields and volunteer to help teams.

Because of the addition of the 15-second “sandstorm” this year, which blinds competitors for the start of the match, Welsh said a team member had to learn coding on the fly.

Stephen Martin, a FIRST senior mentor in Maine, said Friday was the start of a promising weekend, especially for Maine teams.

“What stood out today is the quality of the robots and the gracious professionalism shown by the teams,” he said. “Also, the approximately 80 volunteers who are giving up their Friday and Saturday to support the Pine Tree Event. The volunteers make the event great.”

Martin said Maine teams have fared well in competition this year. Over the past five weeks, teams from Maine have won 10 judged awards, have been on the winning alliance at three events, have been on the second-place alliance once and have made playoffs 15 other times.

The competition picks up Saturday at 9 a.m., with the final rounds ending at 3 p.m. and an awards ceremony to follow.

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