Category Archives: Accomplishments

LigerBots Win “Gracious Professionalism” Award at FIRST District Qualifier

The Newton LigerBots competed this week in the FIRST District Qualifying Event at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where they won the Gracious Professionalism Award for outstanding sportsmanship and continuous gracious professionalism, in the heat of competition, both on and off the field of play. Johnson & Johnson sponsors this award at each FIRST event to recognize the team best exemplifying the principles of FIRST – fairness, humility, sharing, and persevering – and a winning attitude. The judges at WPI noted that “Gracious Professionalism can be used in any aspect of life, not just at a FIRST competition.” Citing the op-ed column the LigerBots wrote last year on good sportsmanship and respect, the judges said, “This team is what FIRST is all about. No matter if they are on the playing field, or out in the community, ‘working together’ is the theme of this team.”

This was the LigerBots’ first competition of the 2017 season, and these early competitions provide an opportunity to test the robot ways that are simply impossible during the short schedule for designing and building. On Day One of this competition, the team identified design flaws, then worked overnight to pinpoint and correct those flaws. That resulted in the LigerBots’ first competitive climb up a Velcro rope for bonus points in the Steamworks game.

The LigerBots returned to Newton with a list of items that need work before they compete at Bryant University in Rhode Island March 25 and 26All are welcome to come watch and cheer!

Newton South Wins West Suburban Science League Tournament

The West Suburban Science League hosts an annual tournament of five monthly events for 20 high-school teams in the Metro-West Boston area.  This year, Newton South HS’s Science Team came in first place (with 51 points), with Acton-Boxborough (81 points) in second place and Belmont (97 points) in third place. Next up:  the Massachusetts Science Olympiad on March 18.

HMS MEDscience Comes to Newton — and Summer Applications Open Feb. 1

HMS MEDscience is a nonprofit that educates and inspires high-school students of all backgrounds in STEM fields. The main mission of MEDscience is under-served populations, but it also runs in several suburban and private schools. Started in 2008 at Harvard Medical School, it now reaches over 1,000 students a year in semester-long courses in 15 area high schools as well as in nine one-week summer immersion sessions. MEDscience incorporates hands-on, real-life, field-based experiences with intensive instruction. Its Executive Director is Newton resident Julie Joyal, a nurse with a Master’s in Education who developed MEDscience’s semester-long course and has taught it for several years at Brookline HS.

Applications will be open February 1 – March 31 for students currently in Grades 9-12 in public, private, and suburban schools to attend one of nine one-week summer sessions (June 12 – August 25, except August 1-5). It’s a non-residential program (9AM-4PM) on the Harvard Medical School campus, and tuition is on a sliding scale.

Suzy Drurey, Justin Owumi, and Maya Dennis

Inspired by her own experience in the summer program last year, Newton South HS student Maya Dennis invited HMS MEDscience to present an interactive training session to over 35 students in Aspirations in Medicine, an after-school club that Maya and Senait Efrem started with faculty advisor Suzy Drurey.  The session included diagnosis of simulated problems via Q&A with an emergency-room “patient” as well as practicing endotracheal intubation on medical-simulation mannequins. The meeting concluded with Justin Owumi relating his path in health care and his experience in medical school. Justin was a student of Ms. Drurey at the O’Bryant High School in Boston, where she taught at the time. He attended the summer HMS MEDscience program six years ago and is now a student at Tufts Medical School.

Maya’s review of the summer program:  “Life-changing, absolutely amazing, never a dull moment. Learned something new every day. Diverse student backgrounds, career-wise and culturally. So many passionate experts to teach us.”

The semester-long MEDscience program offers an engaging way to teach human-body biology and is easily integrated into classes in Anatomy, Physiology, AP Biology, Biology, or Health.  There’s a possibility that Newton South may offer this curriculum as a regular class in the future.

And MEDscience is now talking with Newton North HS teacher Jodie Cohen about scheduling a visit for Newton North students to visit MEDscience’s simulation laboratory on the Harvard Medical School campus.  Newton North students who have participated in the summer program include Despite Georgiadis, Jake Fallon, and Matt Davis Morin.

LigerBots Excel at Hosting Eastern Mass. FLL Championship

The LigerBots did an amazing job hosting the FIRST Lego League (FLL) Eastern Massachusetts Championship on December 17 at Newton North HS.  Forty-seven FLL teams that qualified for the event braved the snowy weather for a day of robotics challenges, research presentations, Gracious Professionalism, and Coopertition.  Four FLL teams from Newton competed:  Block Party, the ‘Botanists, the Day Dragons, and the Snowy Owls.  The ‘Botanists achieved 2nd place in Robot Strategy and Innovation, and Block Party won 2nd place for Gracious Professionalism.  Coaches, students, and parents from across the region reported that this was the best-run FLL event they had attended.  It takes a lot of careful planning and dedicated effort by all on the high-school LigerBots, before and during the championship, to make a successful and memorable STEM event for hundreds of middle-school students.  Congratulations and thanks!

MassBay Students Place 4th in National Cyber League Competition

The MassBay Community College student cyber security team — Paul Buonopane (Medfield),  Andrew Liberatore (Franklin), David Dew (Wellesley), Chester Moses (Framingham), Timothy Ferguson (Marlboro), Corey Skinner (Clinton), and Fred Dolan (Newton) — placed 4th out of 144 teams nationwide in the 2016 National Cyber League Competition.  MassBay now offers both Association of Science degrees and Certificates in Cyber Security.

Local High-School Students Organize MAHacks Hackathon at MIT

mahacks2016Yesterday MAHacks sponsored a Local Hack Day at MIT’s Stata Center, organized by five high-school students — Aman of Needham and Anisha of Weston (in photo) along with Midori of Newton, Izzy of Weston, and Justin from Winchester — coached by Danielle Rusn of MIT’s CSAIL.  High school students from Andover, Quincy, Revere, Waltham, and other communities participated in the day that started early in the morning and ran until 10PM. Greer Swiston reports that as early as 9AM on a Saturday morning, the lecture hall was nearly full of high-school students listening to kickoff presentations about technology innovators who began their signature technology work when they were teenagers.  “The message was clear: You are never too young to change the world.  It just requires opportunity, time, and a lot of hard work.” What these high-school students — the organizers and all participants in the event — have accomplished is quite impressive. A larger hackathon is being planned for the spring.

LigerBots Host Another Successful FLL Qualifying Tournament!

fllnove2016Yesterday the LigerBots, Newton’s high-school FIRST Robotics team, hosted the Newton Qualifier, a FIRST LEGO League (“FLL”) competition, in which 31 teams of students in Grades 4-8 from 14 communities across the state were challenged to think like real-life scientists and engineers. Six teams participated from Newton: The Snowy Owls, Tacocats, Roaming Rover, Kattattak, Day Dragons, and Atomic-Bots.  Congratulations to the Day Dragons for being one of nine teams to advance to the Eastern Massachusetts State Tournament!  (That tournament, with 48 qualifying teams, will also be hosted by the LigerBots, on December 17 at Newton North HS.)

For yesterday’s event, each team defined and solved a real-world problem around this year’s theme, Animal Allies. At the event, the teams presented their research and competed to solve a set of robot game missions using autonomous robots they had built, tested, and programmed.

Yesterday’s event also included an exciting Maker Fair of demonstrations and hands-on activities, including 3D Printing & Artbotics by the LigerBots, Einstein’s WorkshopiRobot, Microsoft, Newton North Greengineering, Russian School of Math, Made@MassChallenge, Kevin Osborn (Maker),  Newton Free Library, Woobo, Empow Studios and Destination Imagination.

Many thanks to all teams, judges, and exhibitors — and congratulations to the LigerBots for their community contribution of careful planning, promotion, and execution of yet another successful event. #MoreThanRobots

Science Club for Girls: 9th Annual Catalyst Awards, Oct. 25

Science Club for Girls invites everyone to the 9th annual Catalyst Awards Celebration on October 25 , 6-8PM at District Hall (75 Northern Avenue in Boston).  This event recognizes those who are strategic, innovative, and effective in promoting STEM.  This year’s honorees are Diane Hessan, Allison Mnookin, and Innovation Women.  Tickets are $100 (with discounts for groups), with proceeds supporting SCFG’s amazing programs to offer underrepresented girls the confidence, knowledge, and experience they need to pursue careers in STEM.  Celebrate SCFG’s diversity, depth of programming, personal and leadership development, community network, and results.

High-School Interns at Unbound Commerce Build Mobile App for NSHS Athletics

Student interns at Unbound Commerce (clockwise from lower left): Gianni Thompson, Rishab Chakravarthy, Emma Barake, Alexus Garcia, Luther Evans, Jay Garg and Maria Kuznetsova

Student interns at Unbound Commerce (clockwise from lower left): Gianni Thompson, Rishab Chakravarthy, Emma Barake, Alexus Garcia, Luther Evans, Jay Garg, and Maria Kuznetsova

This summer, as part of the Mayor’s Summer Internship Program, six high-school students worked at local e-commerce software company Unbound Commerce to build a mobile app for the Newton South HS Athletics Booster Club.  Their app presents sports schedules and scores, sells and displays season passes, accepts donations for the NSHS Athletics Booster Club, and displays tweets from the Athletics Department.

NSHS Athletic Director, Patricia Gonzalez said, “I was impressed by the students’ attention to detail, their willingness to listen and take suggestions. The students were very professional and delivered a great product.”

This was by far the largest internship team of this summer’s program, which had 38 interns at 24 sites.  In addition to this project, the interns received training in career effectiveness and financial literacy.  In its first year in Newton, Unbound Commerce was generous to accept six interns and was thrilled with the results.  Keith Lietzke, Co-founder & CMO of Unbound Commerce said, “We were really delighted with our interns’ enthusiasm and dedication.  And their ability.  They worked hard to produce a great app that people will really like.  With help from our team at Unbound, the interns did all the coding themselves.  Very impressive!”

Once testing is complete and the app is registered, you’ll be able to find a link to it on the NSHS Booster Club site.

Envirothon: Newton North HS Places 1st in State, 7th in North America

Newton North High School’s Envirothon Team placed 7th overall in a field of 52 teams at the North American Environthon held during the last week in July in Ontario.  The 52 teams were champions of their respective state and provincial competitions, where they competed on knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management as well as environmental problem solving.  The NNHS team — captain Iris Liao, Bowen He, Amy Huang, Gregory Brumberg, and Lucy Lu, coached by NNHS science teacher Anndy Dannenberg — finished second in Aquatics and third in Forestry at the North American event.  Here’s the full team that won the Massachusetts competition in May, among 36 high schools competing:NNHS-Envirothon-2016