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Robotics and mayhem

  • Above: Last row: Casimir Guida, Coach Ken Streeter, Faith Streeter, Nathan Streeter (mentor), Sean Moushegian, Kevin McClure, Quinn Montgomery, Will Jennings. Middle Row: Layth Juma, Ellen Mohnkern (mentor), Chris Jennings (coach), Gabe Deml, Dan Chamberland (mentor), George Haggarty. First Row: Andy Mohnkern, Gabrielle Haggarty, Elizabeth Deml, Adrienne Saucier, Lizzie Haggarty, Elsa Saucier, Chandler Haggarty. Photos by Felicia Saucier



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Local students spent April school vacation doing a variety of leisurely things. Two brought “mayhem” to St. Louis.

Mechanical Mayhem, a regional FIRST Robotics team based in Milford with students from Lyndeborough, Mason and Peterborough, faced international competition, reaching the quarterfinals.

“It was amazing to see how other teams solve the same problems we had to solve, and solving them in sometimes different ways,” Quinn Montgomery, 16, of Peterborough said.

Montgomery has been involved with Mechanical Mayhem since he was a lot younger at the Lego League level. He is a junior at ConVal High School, but his friend Casimir Guida represents a larger contingent on the team.

“Our focus is primarily on students who don’t have the opportunity to do FIRST Robotics through their high schools,” Nancy Streeter, mentor and cofounder, said. “We usually have 60 to 70 percent home schoolers.”

ConVal does have its own program. Milford High School, where most of the students go, used to have a team, but it disbanded.

Guida, 16, of Lyndeborough is one of those home-school students and he’s been with Mechanical Mayhem for 6 years, also beginning in Lego League.

“I figured I would go and try it out, because it seemed like a cool thing to do,” he said. “At least in my opinion, it’s a lot more fun at this level because there’s a lot more engineering.”

Guida and Quinn have lots of skills and responsibilities, but both are most often on the scout team. They watch the robots from other teams to build a database to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of those they might choose to ally with in later rounds. In St. Louis, where the team ranked ninth in its division, it partnered with the runner-up from the Netherlands.

“I think opening the kids’ eyes to teams from all over the world is good, just to go to the pit of those teams and learn from them and talk with them,” Streeter said. “I think it helps inspire the kids and helps push them to want to make a better robot.”

Sixty-eight teams were in St. Louis for the world competition, for which Mechanical Mayhem qualified with its top-three finish in the New England region. Streeter called it “a grand event.”

“It’s pretty exciting, and it’s a pretty interesting sport,” Guida said. “One of te fun sports where you’re kind of rooting for the other teams.”

He said the team did not do as well this year as in the previous year, when he remembers ranking 12th in the world by total points.

Points are accrued by having six robots perform various tasks, like shooting a basketball and picking up strewn gears.

Mechanical Mayhem began in 2004 serving several towns in the Milford area, from New Boston to Mason. Streeter said she specifically reaches out to home-school groups.

New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, who home schooled is kids in Wilton, had two children pass through the program. Last week, he made a proposal to expand school robotics programs throughout the state.

“We’ve always been kind of spread out,” Streeter said of Mechanical Mayhem’s beginnings as a Lego team. “But hen we started the Mechanical Mayhem robotics team, we spread even wider.”

Guida and Montgomery are engineering specialists who plan to stay in the program and take its lessons with them.

“I would love to go to school for some sort of computer thing, like computer programming,” Montgomery said. “We all have our specific things that we love to do, so it’s nice to come together as a team to do our best, and make some friends, too.”