Public Invited to FIRST LEGO League Eastern Mass. Championship and Maker Fair, Dec. 15

The Newton LigerBots high-school robotics team will once again host the Eastern Massachusetts Championship event of the annual FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics competition. It will be held at Newton North HS on December 15, 9AM-3PM, and it’s free, open to the public, and a blast to see. Among the 45+ FLL teams competing will be Newton’s Roaming Rovers and Day Dragons, which won entry to the event through their success at the Newton Qualifier competition hosted by the LigerBots last month. Alongside the Eastern Massachusetts competition will be an expanded maker fair and robot zoo exhibition showcasing all kinds of STEM offerings and hands-on activities. The LigerBots will also host about 50 Newton Girl Scouts in Grades 1-5 to see and participate in the maker fair.

NNHS Teams Win Honors at ‘Women of Science’ Competition

Yesterday, two teams of Newton North HS students performed well at the 16th Annual Women of Science Competition in Bedford. Of 38 teams competing, team A (Abby Lau, Eve Martin and Dominique Rinfret) placed second, each winning $500 scholarships and science books, and team B (Jane Alandydy, Mari McCarthy and Ali Roberts) won sixth place. Newton South HS also fielded two teams, winning seventh and eleventh places. All 38 teams wrestled with STEM problems celebrating women’s achievements in STEM, under the theme Reaching for the Stars – Celebrating Astronomical Discoveries of Women Astronomers. The event also included a networking lunch with female STEM professionals. Take a look at some of the challenges from this year and prior years!

$15K Matching for NNHS Fundraiser for BioTech Equipment

Last week, at an event to showcase the NNHS Science Department and its plans to acquire new equipment (miniPCR–the DNA Discovery System) for biology and upper-year electives, the Newton North HS PTSO announced at $15,000 match for donations toward this goal. For more information, email

MIT Museum Teen Science Cafe: AI & U, Dec. 15

The MIT Museum (265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge) will host its next Teen Science Cafe for Grades 9-12 on December 15, 6-8:30PM, focused on the future of Artificial Intelligence and its impact.  Admission is free and dinner will be provided.  Seating is limited and registration is required.  Doors will open at 5:45PM and no one will be admitted after 7PM. The event will include short talks and conversations with scientists, as well as time to explore the Museum galleries.

Brown University Summer STEM Program for Students Entering Grades 9-10

Applications are now open for Brown University’s summer STEM program for students entering Grades 9-10 next fall. It’s a residential, two-week program running June 23 to July 5 on the Brown campus in Providence, RI.

WPI Seeks Presenters for AweSTEM! Celebration, Mar. 27

Each year, Worcester Polytechnic Institute hosts AweSTEM!, a celebration of STEM education for educators. This year it will be held on March 27, 3:30-5:30PM, with the theme Growing STEM in Our Communities. Educators are invited to apply by December 14, as individuals or teams, to share via an exhibit an activity, lesson, or initiative that is unique, exemplary, and illustrating the theme of Growing STEM in Our Communities. For more information, contact Katie Elmes at

STEM Professionals: Sign Up to Judge the New England Future Cities Competition, Jan.

The New England Regional competition for the 2018-19 Future Cities program will be held January 26 at Watertown Middle School (68 Waverly Ave., Watertown). STEM professionals can support the competition, either as mentors throughout the fall semester or as judges before and during the regional competitions (info here). You can register online to be a judge. Contact Reed Brockman at or 617-240-7979 for more information about the New England event.

Empow Studios: Vacation Camps

Empow Studios will offer NanoCamps December 26-28 over the winter school vacation. And for a limited time, Empow is offering a 12% discount on registrations for its 2019 camps over school breaks and summer vacation.

Grades 6-8: Register for Makers’ Corner Courses (at Underwood)

Registration is now open for new courses at the Makers’ Corner for Grades 6-8, located at Underwood School. All meet 2:45-4:15 except Tuesday clubs start at 2PM.

  • Intro to Hands-On Electronics:  Mondays, January 7-February 11
  • Make Your Own Comic Book (Print or Digital):  Wednesdays, January 9-February 13
  • Survey of Printmaking:  Fridays, January 4-February 8
  • Sewing Stuffed Animals:  Tuesdays, March 5-April 9
  • Scene Shop: Props, Costumes, & Sets:  Thursdays, March 7-May 9 (includes final show)
  • Build Your Own Infinity Light Table:  Fridays, March 1-April 5

Holiday STEM Gift Ideas

Boston Tech Mom has posted her annual STEM Gift Ideas for 2018 and has also discussed the gifts recommended by educators from Project Lead the Way.

Eric Olson recommends the monthly subscriptions of fun STEM projects from KiwiCo. They’re available in 7 lines, by age:  Explore & Discover (0-3 years), Play & Learn (3-4 years), Science, Art & More (5-8 years), Geography & Culture (6-11 years), Art & Design (9-16+ years), Science & Engineering (9-16+ years), Engineering and Design (14-104 years). Choose 1, 3, 6, or 12 months, with increasing discounts. Change among lines at any time.

Kevin Osborn has an eclectic list of recommendations for makers and robotics fans:

1. Screwdrivers! They are definitely not all created equal! Wiha screwdrivers are always excellent, and you can buy them in multi-bit sets or as dedicated drivers with ergonomic handles. Once you start using them, you’ll want to throw out your other screwdrivers. If you are not buying a set, at least get a #1 and #2 Phillips head. They are available locally at YouDoIt Electronics or online. And if you ever need to open your Macbook or Android phone, specialty screwdrivers are needed. This Japanese made set is terrific and has regular drivers included, so it’s just about got you covered for any job involving small screws.

2. To explore electronics on a budget, look at Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express, which has a bunch of sensors, a speaker, microphone, addressable LEDs, etc. It can be programmed in the browser with Microsoft’s MakeCode, with Arduino, or you can drag-and-drop Python programs to it. Many accessories are available, including Crickit, which turns the Circuit Playground #xpress into a great platform for building your own robots.

3. mBot is not like so many “STEM” robot toys that are expensive one-trick ponies (once you’ve learned what they have to teach you, they are no longer very interesting). mBot includes distance sensing, line following, motion, and more, and it’s part of a more extensive line (makeblock) that’s sort of an Erector Set of robotics. With many attachment points, you can also add on your own embellishments (both artistic and functional) with standard screws and nuts. Buy two to set up your own robot sumo contest!