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.
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.
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.
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!”
Yesterday the Newton high-school robotics team, the LigerBots, competed in an off-season event, the Bay State Brawl, at Whitinsville Christian School. The team assigned all rookie students to drive the robot, and after the qualifying rounds this team was selected into a three-team alliance that won the event, going undefeated in the semi-finals and finals. About 15 students, including 8 rookies, participated in this event with 10 other teams.
The Newton LigerBots sent a delegation to the FIRST National Advocacy Conference, June 24-26 in Washington, DC, representing Massachusetts along with the Green Reapers team from Worcester. The 250 conference attendees learned about how bills get passed, how to advocate effectively, what other teams are doing at the state level, and the two STEM-related aims of FIRST’s current advocacy:
Reauthorization of the Perkins Act, which supports technical education and STEM opportunities in second careers for those who may otherwise not be able to afford it, and
Full funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which provides flexible block grants that school districts can use to for high-quality STEM programs both in the classroom and after school.
On the last day of the conference, the LigerBot delegates met with Representative Joseph Kennedy as well as with staff of Senators Warren and Markey, and Representative Capuano to talk about FIRST, STEM, the Perkins Act, and ESSA.
Newton North HS has once again won first place in the 31st annual Massachusetts Envirothon competition and will represent the state at the North American competition, July 22-28 in Pocatello, Idaho. After a year of intensive preparation and study, the team traveled to the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge to compete against 26 other high schools in an all-day schedule of written tests and hands-on activities assessing knowledge of soils, forests, water, and wildlife. Each team also gave a presentation about its research into its own community’s water infrastructure resources and needs, identifying a partnering opportunity and making specific recommendations for action. This is the sixth time in seven years that Newton North HS has won this honor.
This weekend the LigerBots participated in the two-day Battlecry 19 post-season FIRST robotics competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with 59 other teams from the region. The LigerBots ended the Qualifying Rounds with a record of 5-3-0 and were invited to join an alliance headed by The Bionics from Billerica. This alliance advanced to the quarter-finals, where they were defeated by the alliance that eventually won the competition.
The ever-community-minded LigerBots plan to bring their robot to events in May and June, including the Newton Memorial Day Parade on May 27, Newton Highlands Village Day on June 10, and Tour de Newton on June 17. The team will also host an evening meeting for all parents and potential coaches (all are welcome!) to learn about FIRST LEGO League (FLL) on Wednesday, June 20, 7-9PM, at the Newton North High School Film Lecture Hall. And the team is starting the process of recruiting new students for the 2018-2019 school year.