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Hampshire Regional High School Lego team competes in state tournament

Members of the Hampshire Regional High School robotics team are, back row, coach Sue Froehlich and students Ruth Tracy, Collin Touchette, Connor Bell and Graham Pilger; bottom row are 
coaches Jim Liptak and Wendy Touchette and students Sam Spelman and Nicole Howard. 
COURTESY OF HAMPSHIRE REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL

Members of the Hampshire Regional High School robotics team are, back row, coach Sue Froehlich and students Ruth Tracy, Collin Touchette, Connor Bell and Graham Pilger; bottom row are coaches Jim Liptak and Wendy Touchette and students Sam Spelman and Nicole Howard. COURTESY OF HAMPSHIRE REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL Purchase photo reprints »

WESTHAMPTON — Hampshire Regional High School’s Team PIE (Professional Intelligent Engineers) robotics team placed sixth in the games division of the regional First Lego tournament held in December in Agawam.

The contest drew 24 teams, according to Kristen Smidy, assistant principal for the middle school. The HRHS team’s performance earned it a spot in the Dec. 15 statewide Lego robotics competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where more than 80 teams competed, Smidy said.

The state’s First Lego League hosts regular events for students ages 9 to 14 who create robots according to specifications and have them perform tasks in a timed contest. Although Team PIE did not place at the state level, Smidy said members are looking forward to ongoing practice sessions aimed at future competitions.

Volunteer coach and school parent Sue Froehlich, who works at Picker School of Engineering at Smith College, said the team “pulled off an amazing feat.”

To accomplish the task of having their robot climb a bridge, “from noodling around, they discovered that the robot could climb the bridge height from the side,” said Froehlich, who has children in grades eight and 12 at HRHS.

“With articulated rear arm hooks, the robot would latch onto the bridge for its successful final move,” she said. “That execution drew lots of attention and praise.”

School parent Wendy Touchette and retired HRHS math teacher Jim Liptak also volunteered as coaches. Students on this year’s Team PIE are Connor Bell, Nicole Howard, Graham Pilger, Sam Spelman, Ruth Tracy and Collin Touchette.

Students interested in joining the club can contact Smidy at 527-7680.

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