Category Archives: Accomplishments

LigerBots Compete in New England District Championships

The Newton Ligerbots previously qualified for, and competed this weekend at, the FIRST Newton England District Championships at WPI, ranking 34th of 64 teams at the event.  The LigerBots finished the season with an offensive power ranking of 29 out of over 200 teams in New England.

Samantha Rosenberg, the team’s chief technical officer and a junior at Newton South High School, won a Dean’s List Finalist Award, given to student leaders who have led their teams and communities to increased awareness for the FIRST Robotics program and its mission to inspire students to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and math, all while achieving technical expertise and accomplishment. She will compete for the Dean’s List Award at the FIRST World Championship in Detroit during the weekend of April 24-27.

Dr. Noa Rensing of West Newton, one of the team’s co-head coaches, won the Woodie Flowers Semi-finalist Award at the Central Massachusetts District Event. Mentors are nominated by students and the award is given to a mentor who has given them the best understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and satisfaction involved in the discipline of engineering and design.

Mass. Science Olympiad Results: Newton North 2nd, Newton South 4th

Congratulations to the Science Teams of Newton North HS (in photo) and Newton South HS for placing 2nd and 4th respectively among 55 high school teams in the preliminary results of this year’s Massachusetts Science Olympiad held at Framingham State University. These are preliminary results, to be finalized in the next two weeks. Each team assigns one or two students to compete in each of 25 events throughout the all-day competition. Newton North won first place in five events and second place in four:

  • Gus Betts-O’Rourke, Alina Zheng, Skyler Bohnert – first, Codebusters
  • Laura Schmidt-Hong and Julian Liao – first, Designer Genes
  • Laura Schmidt-Hong and Emily Davis-Morin – first, Disease Detectives
  • Ethan Gahm and David Genis – first, Dynamic Planet
  • Laura Schmidt-Hong and Alina Zheng – first, Herpetology
  • Eve Martin and Abby Lau – second, Astronomy
  • Eve Martin, Jonathan Liu, and Jessica Chen – second, Experimental Design
  • Ethan Gahm and Emily Davis-Morin – second, Mission Possible
  • Jessica Chen, Emily Pan, and Max Tu – second, Protein Modeling

Acton-Boxborough placed first, as it has since 2009, when Newton North last came out on top.

LigerBots Have Been Busy!

In recent weeks the Ligerbots, Newton’s dual-high-school FIRST robotics team, has been very busy:

  • During a six-week designated “build season,” the team designed and built Thanos, a brand new robot for this year’s competition, Destination: Deep Space. This entailed working six days a week as well as through the February school break.
  • Five team members and a mentor participated in the two-day FIRST Southern New England Advocacy Conference (SNEAC), learning about legislative advocacy for FIRST and STEM initiatives and then practicing what they learned in meetings on Beacon Hill with Newton’s legislators and/or their staff.
  • This weekend, the team participated in its first FIRST competition of the season, the Southeastern Massachusetts District Event, in Bridgewater. The team joined an alliance that made it into the semi-finals.

Newton North HS Places Second in MIT’s Blue Lobster Bowl

On March 3, Newton North HS sent three teams to the Blue Lobster Bowl, Massachusetts’ regional marine sciences quiz bowl at MIT, and Newton South HS sent one.  The full-day competition — a Regional Competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl — covers chemistry, biology, engineering, history, ecology, climate change, and weather.  North’s A team placed 2nd of 15 teams, its B team placed 8th, and its C team placed 9th.  South’s team placed 6th.

Burr School STEAM Fair — Success!

Burr Elementary School held its STEAM Fair on Friday evening, sponsored by the Burr PTO. It was a fun, non-competitive opportunity for students to learn about the scientific process alongside many of the Burr community parents who are involved in STEAM fields. By adding “A” for “Art” to STEM, the STEAM Fair encouraged students to engage in a broader range of creative projects, including baking, color exploration, and sound waves. Empow Studios hosted a gaming and robotics table, and parent demonstrations included an experiment in color and light. At the popular Reverse Engineering table, students took apart non-working electronics and appliances to explore how their parts work together.

Girls Who Code: Success at Oak Hill MS

Oak Hill Middle School teachers Maureen Stewart and Jessie Cadigan sent this about the school’s Girls Who Code program:

The Girls Who Code group at Oak Hill has been meeting weekly since October. We are very fortunate to have a parent volunteer, Raktim Sinha, who offered to start the group and share his knowledge of coding. The intent of GWC is to explore coding while teaching the girls self-reliance and problem-solving in a collaborative and fun environment. It has a wide interest with many girls joining across all three grades. The girls started by learning basic concepts using Scratch and now have moved on to Python. Interspersed with the coding lessons, the girls are also exploring ideas around what it means to be “courageous” and “creative.” They are currently brainstorming project ideas that they will focus on for the rest of the year.

LigerBots Host FIRST LEGO League Eastern Massachusetts Championship

Yesterday the Newton LigerBots high-school robotics team hosted the Eastern Massachusetts FIRST Lego League (FLL) Championship featuring 48 FLL teams that qualified for the event from across eastern Massachusetts, including three Newton-based teams:  the Day Dragons, the Roaming Rovers, and the Hawks. In addition to competing in LEGO robot matches, the teams presented their projects on this year’s outer-space theme, Into Orbit. The Day Dragons won the Inspiration Award and the Roaming Rovers won the Teamwork Award. This was a great showing for Newton team in a very competitive event. The event also featured 10 FLL Jr. teams presenting their projects on this year’s FLL Jr. outer-space based theme, Mission Moon.

Accompanying the tournament was a maker fair featuring hands-on activities from the Brandeis Maker Lab, Students for a Greener World, Newton Free Library, Empow Studios, Hatch, Johnson String Instruments, Kevin Osborn, the Massachusetts National Guard, and Code Ninjas, as well as LigerBots STEAM activities: 3D printing, button making, paper airplanes, origami, slime, brush bots, PB&J Robot, and binary beads. About 70 Newton Girl Scouts attended the maker fair, which served as their 2018 STEAM Workshop. The Girl Scouts earned their STEAM patch by participating in activities sponsored by the Ligerbots and other exhibitors. See more photos here.

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!

Update from Science Club for Girls

Science Club for Girls has been focusing on developing a strategic plan and a more robust development model to support expansion of its services. Its mission is to “foster excitement, confidence and literacy in STEM for girls from underrepresented communities by providing free, experiential programs and by maximizing meaningful interactions with women mentors in STEM.”

  • This fall, SCFG is running 12 clubs in three locations in Cambridge: Amigos School, King Open School, and Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House. Each club has three or more mentors who are women undergraduates, graduate students, or STEM professionals.
  • SCFG also has 15 Junior Mentors who are girls in Grades 8-12 — most of whom have been involved with SCFG since Kindergarten — to maintain institutional memory, traditions, and excitement.
  • SCFG is currently conducting a search for a new Executive Director.
  • This summer, SCFG raised $239,000 from individual donors, foundations, corporations and government sources.  You can donate here to continue the work of this organization.

LigerBots Host FLL Newton Qualifier; Teams Win Awards

Yesterday the Newton high-school robotics team, the LigerBots, hosted the Newton Qualifier, one of two competitions for FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams held at Newton North HS each year. This tournament featured 23 FLL teams from Greater Boston, including six Newton-based teams:  The Day Dragons, Empow Studios, LazerRobotics, Plutonium 238, the Roaming Rovers, and the Supernovas. The Day Dragons won the Champion’s Award, the Roaming Rovers won the Robot Programming Award, and the LazerRobotics won the Inspiration Award.  The Roaming Rovers and Day Dragons qualified for the Eastern MA State Championship, which will be hosted by the LigerBots at Newton North HS on December 15, 9AM-3PM.

Accompanying the tournament was a maker fair featuring exhibits from the Newton Free Library, Green Newton, Einstein’s Workshop, Empow Studios, Droid Builders, SharkNinja, Hatch, Johnson String Instrument and well as LigerBots STEAM activities, including button making, paper airplanes, origami, 3D printing, brush bots, PB&J Robot, and binary beads. An even larger maker fair will be featured at the Eastern MA State Champship on December 15, and the public is again invited to this fun, free event. The LigerBots describe the tone of the event as “sports championship / science fair / family reunion / dance party!”