Category Archives: Accomplishments

Five Newton Students in Mass. Science & Engineering Fair

Five Newton-area students participated in this year’s Massachusetts Science & Engineering Fair, and two of them won awards. The in-person Fair itself had to be canceled, but all the work before it was celebrated through media. Here are Newton’s participants and their research topics, which are described more fully in the MSEF Program Book:

  • 2nd Place Rohit Paradkar (Newton South HS): Bioinformatical Analyses of the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
  • Finalist — Elizabeth Lesher (Newton Country Day): What Factors Increase the Risk of Contracting the Common Cold?
  • Charlotte Aslett (Newton Country Day): Testing the Effects of Sucrose on a Drosophila Model of Alzheimer’s
  • Emily Addona (Newton Country Day): Automated Integrated Security System
  • Nicholas Hu (Newton South HS): Defect Lifetimes in Active Nematic Systems

LigerBots Win Coveted Chairman’s Award!

Even during #StayAtHome, the LigerBots‘ work and achievements continue. In a New England FIRST live stream held last week, it was announced that Newton’s dual-high-school robotics team won the FIRST Robotics Competition Chairman’s Award for the Greater Boston District Competition. The Chairman’s Award is FIRST’s highest award and celebrates the team that best exemplifies the ideals of FIRST. The video presentation of the LigerBots’ award cited the team’s extensive outreach programs, including Women in STEM Day, hosting two FIRST LEGO League competitions for Eastern Massachusetts, and project-based learning initiatives. Winning the Chairman’s award gives the team automatic qualification for the New England District Championship, which unfortunately had to be canceled this year. Nevertheless, the LigerBots’ achievements remain renowned.

STEM Offerings Moving Rapidly to Online, In-Home Learning

Providers of STEM education and enrichment have moved rapidly to create online versions of their in-person programs for use during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The Innovation Institute has moved all of its spring-term courses online. Classes are starting just now, and some spaces are still available. An initial review from a parent of Grades K and 2 said her kids’ first classes were “a smashing success.” Additional courses will be added soon for Grades 8-12.
  • Mad Science offers its Loop Lab mail-order science curriculum (with a free lab coat if you use code LABCOAT19). It’s also offering daily 60-minute live online classroom sessions, available for single sessions or by the week.
  • Code Ninjas has created (and will be updating) a list of at-home STEM activity resources and is offering an at-home Hack-a-thon, tutorial videos, and daily LIVE YouTube videos. Details here.
  • Empow Studios is offering live, virtual online classes in coding, robotics, film and animation, Minecraft, and engineering.
  • The John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club has moved its Curiosity Club, Keystone Club, and Torch club meetings online and will host coding and other STEM activities for elementary and middle school kids via
  • Within the next week, the Russian School of Math will have temporarily moved all of its in-person classes online, simulating in-person classes as much as possible and drawing on its seven years of experience in online learning.
  • CSRecitations has moved all of its in-person classes online, including a new summer online course in Java for Grades 8+. Class sizes are limited to five students.

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 in Grades 4-8 that qualified for the event from across eastern Massachusetts, including seven teams from Newton: Roaming Rovers, Botanistas, ROBO SCAPERS, Day Dragons, LazerRobotics, City Snakes, and Supernovas. Teams competed in robot matches and research presentations based on this year’s FLL theme, City Shaper (see video and game guide). These Newton teams won awards:

  • ROBO SCAPERS: 1st place for Presentation Award
  • Supernovas:  1st place for Strategy & Innovation Award
  • City Snakes:  Judge’s Award
  • Botanistas:  2nd place for Lightning Round
  • Lazer Robotics: 2nd place for Mechanical Design Award

LigerBots mentor/coach Greer Swiston won the Outstanding Volunteer Award. The event attracted large crowds, including several public officials and candidates, as well as 120 Girl Scouts attending to earn their STEAM badges. In an accompanying STEAM Expo, the LigerBots and others demonstrated emerging technologies and interesting projects. See more photos here.

LigerBots Host FLL Qualifying Tournament, and 2 Newton FLL Teams Proceed to State Championship

Yesterday, Newton’s award-winning high-school robotics team, the LigerBots, hosted a FIRST Lego League (FLL) qualifying tournament at Newton North High School for 34 FLL teams of students in Grades 4-8 from all over eastern Massachusetts, including eight teams based in Newton. From 9AM to 2PM, teams competed in robot matches and research presentations based on this year’s FLL theme, City Shaper (see video), after which there was a dance party and an award ceremony. Judges scored the teams on their design, research project, and robot performance. Eleven teams — including Newton’s Roaming Rovers, City Snakes, and Day Dragons — were awarded “golden tickets” to advance to the state championship. The LigerBots also hosted a Maker Fair, where students of all ages could see and interact with local STEAM experts and have hands-on experience applying science and engineering skills and concepts.

On December 14, the LigerBots will again host the Eastern Massachusetts FLL Championship tournament at Newton North HS, with more teams and more fun!  That event will include a Maker Fair with local companies, more hands-on activities, and a Girl Scouts STEAM workshop. It’s all free and open to the public.

2 Newton Teams Succeed at Destination Imagination Global Finals

Two Destination Imagination teams represented Newton at the Global Finals in Kansas City, MO two weeks ago, and both teams did very well among teams from 15 nations around the world. At the elementary level, the Newton Noodle Nibblers placed 6th out of 60, and at the high-school level, team (that’s the team’s clever name, and not a link to its website!) placed 12th out of 60. Both teams competed in the Medical Mystery (Scientific) challenge, in which they:

  • Researched the human body and medical conditions that affect the human body,
  • Created and presented a story about a medical mystery that affects a human character,
  • Designed and built a representation that shows the medical mystery and at least one symptom, and
  • Presented an action or scene that is shown from two or more perspectives at the same time.

Newton South HS Science Dept. Open House, May 30

The Newton South High School Science Department will hold its annual Open House on May 30, 3PM-6:30PM.

  • Displays of student work in Family Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Engineering
  • Departmental awards honoring student achievements
  • DaVinci STEAM program final engineering projects (Kinetic sculpture meets Biology & Math) and understanding DNA through art and engineering
  • Fun With Chemistry demonstrations for kids
  • Guest speakers from local universities on climate change
  • Student speakers presenting their original work
  • Technology and Engineering displays
  • Presentations by the NSHS Science Team and the LigerBots robotics team

Newton Students Win Awards at Mass. Science & Engineering Fair

Three Newton students won awards at the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair at MIT yesterday.  Newton Country Day School junior Katelyn McGauley won a Third Place award, and Newton Country Day School senior Emma Hartman and Newton South High School junior Matthew Cole won Honorable Mention awards. All awards are listed here. Photos and info from Newton Country Day School News:

McGauley’s project, “The Parallel Between Rising Shark and Seal Populations off the Coast of Cape Cod,” reviewed and analyzed published literature to identify causes of the increasing shark populations.

Hartman’s project, “Identifying EEG Correlates to Intentional Motor Movement,” used a homemade electroencephalography machine to analyze how human brains process tasks.

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.