On Saturday, Dec. 9, Maine Robotics, with support from the Manton Family Foundation, will present the 18th annual Maine FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Championship Tournament.

The Searsport Yellow Submarines will be among teams from all over the state competing for the championship.

According to Tom Bickford, the state FLL coordinator and director of Maine Robotics, the program is an excellent opportunity for Maine youth to really learn about technology, programming, and science in general.

The tournament is part of an international program that runs in over 85 countries and has over 400,000 children participating this year. The program is a cross between a science fair and a robotics competition. Teams have to research and present about the year’s topic as well as build and program a LEGO robot to compete on the competition table.

This year’s topic is Hydro Dynamics and has teams looking at the human water cycle. Teams have to figure out better ways to get, use, filter, store, purify, recycle, and dispose of our water.

The competition runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta.

There will be 60 Maine teams competing and the event expects well over 2,400 people to be there for the event. It is a free and open to the public event, so anyone can come and watch. Teams, however, are already preregistered and have been getting ready for the competition since the start of school.

This day-long program will be the last of five FLL tournaments in Maine this year and at least one team will be invited to compete at the FLL World Championship in Detroit next spring. Several teams are expected to be invited to the FLL Open Championships in California and Arkansas, also in the spring.

Maine Robotics Director Tom Bickford is the event coordinator and over 80 volunteers will be there to help run the event.

Teams are made up of two to 10 students from ages 9 to 14 and represent communities from all around Maine.

Other things to check out at the event include the famous Great Ball Contraption as seen on YouTube; Project>Login will also be hosting a room dedicated to giving spectators a chance to learn some programming; and several high school FIRST Robotics Competition teams will have their “big” robots on display, and attendees might even get to drive one.

For more information, visit mainerobotics.org.

For more information about Maine School for Science and Mathematics, visit mssm.org.