Category Archives: Accomplishments

A Great Year for the Day Dragons!

It’s been a busy and successful year for Newton’s Day Dragons FIRST Lego League (FLL) team, consisting of four students from Day Middle School and two from Pierce Elementary.  The team won a spot in last week’s FLL World Championships in Detroit.  To prepare for the event, the team completely redesigned, rebuilt, and reprogrammed its robot after the state competition — and had its work reviewed by the LigerBots — and was thus able to achieve significantly higher scores and greater consistency in the World competitions. At the event, the Day Dragons were honored to share their experiences in agile development as part of an Agile FIRST expert panel.  With the help of the law firm of Mintz Levin, the team applied for a provisional patent for its innovations. In addition to community work (e.g., demonstrating its robot at the Lincoln Eliot science fair), the team also visited a Harvard University robotics lab. In the upcoming off-season, the team is preparing for next year and plans to work with the LigerBots in promoting FIRST, STEM, and robotics in the Newton community.

LigerBots at FIRST Robotics World Championship

The Newton LigerBots had their best performance yet at the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) World Championship in Detroit this weekend, finishing 6th out of 68 teams in the Daly division and advancing to the Division Semifinals before falling to the team that won the World Championship. This is the fourth time that the LigerBots have won a spot in the World Championships in its ten years. and each time they have advanced further.

Thirty-three LigerBots students, accompanied by coaches, mentors and parents, made the trip to Detroit to compete with over 400 FRC teams from around the world. The FIRST World Festival also included 128 teams competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge and over 100 FIRST Lego League teams — including the Newton’s Day Dragons, a team of four students from Day Middle School and and two from Pierce.

The LigerBots lost only one of 10 matches in qualifying rounds, achieving third best among 37 New England teams that qualified for the championships. They advanced through quarterfinals and semifinals, but did not move on to the finals. 

Excellence depends on many factors: a robust design, a skilled and level-headed “drive team,” the ability to partner with other teams, and scouting other matches to identify robots with complementary abilities with which to form alliances.

The event included exhibits from colleges across the country, an innovation fair, and exhibits from companies seeking to engage with students interested in STEM.

Newton’s Day Dragons FLL team presented a seminar on “Applying Agile Principles to Your FIRST Lego League Team,” which was well-received, and the students impressed the audience as they took part in a panel discussion following the presentation.

The LigerBots spoke to teams around the world about: how they inspire and engage their community in learning about STEM, their use of 3D printing, and their 3D printed part competition, which they created 3 years ago to celebrate the creative ways teams solve problems with 3D printing.

The LigerBots were excited to be a part of this event,and appreciate the community and corporate support that allowed the team to include as many students as were able to go. Their next competition will be BattleCry, on May 19 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

MSSEF Showcase of Exhibits and STEM Expo at MIT, May 5

The Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair will host its annual Showcase of Exhibits and STEM Expo at the MIT Johnson Athletics Center Ice Rink on Saturday, May 5, 12:30-3PM. This free event highlights 3 “Best of the Best” research and innovation projects by 400 high school students across the state. An awards ceremony, 3:30-5PM at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, will recognize winners of a total of $500,000 in scholarships and prizes.

LigerBots: Onward to the FIRST Robotics World Championships!

This week, the Newton LigerBots will compete against 400 other teams worldwide at the FIRST Robotics World Championships, in Detroit, April 25-28, having qualified for this by winning awards and designing a reliable, effective robot during this season of competitions.  The team needs to raise $5,000 for the competition registration plus about $15,000 for travel (two days each way by bus). You can help out by making a tax-deductible donation.

LigerBots Excel at FIRST Robotics Greater Boston, Qualifying for New England District Championship Event, Apr. 13-14

The Newton LigerBots excelled today at the FIRST Robotics Greater Boston Event at Revere High School, where the team advanced to the finals as part of the second alliance before being eliminated in the final match. The LigerBots ranked sixth out of 42 teams in regular competition play and also took home the event’s Engineering Inspiration Award. One of the team’s student leaders also moved forward as a finalist for the Dean’s List Award. (See photos.)

The LigerBots have now qualified for the New England District Championship at Boston University, April 13-14, based on their robot’s success on the Power Up playing field and garnering the Engineering Inspiration Award and Imagery awards at district-level events. The New England Championship, like all FRC events, is free and open to the public and will be live streamed. Everyone is invited to cheer with the team in the stands and be escorted by a LigerBot on a “pit tour” of all the competing FRC robots.

The Engineering Inspiration Award celebrates the team’s outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within its school and community. The judges said, “[The LigerBots exemplify] coopertition. With 30 outreach events this year alone, this team sets the standard for not only getting STEM into their local community, but worldwide. From science fairs to 3D printing, fixing school equipment to creating their own internal grant system, this team is truly an inspiration. On top of all that, this team taught us all how to be safe this year with their award-winning animation video.” The LigerBots will be eligible to compete for the next level of this award at the New England District Championship.

In addition to the team-wide awards, outstanding individual LigerBots have received several awards this season. At the Revere event, Newton North HS sophomore and LigerBots CMO Douglas was named a Dean’s List Award District Championship finalist. The Dean’s List Award celebrates outstanding student leaders with exemplary passion for and effectiveness at attaining FIRST ideals. He and Coach Igor, whose nomination for the Woodie Flowers Award was presented in March at the North Shore Event, will be considered for the same awards at the next level at the New England Championship.

If all goes well at the District Championship, the LigerBots will qualify for the FRC World Championship in Detroit, on April 25-28, and will then immediately need to raise significant money for the $5,000 competition fee and travel expenses. The LigerBots are supported solely by corporate sponsors and individual donors. If you’d like to help the team, you can donate online via Paypal or the LigerBots website, which also has information about donating by check.

Newton 4th-Grade Destination Imagination Team Wins Spot in Global Finals

[photo] Top: Luca Dalzell (Team Mascot)
Middle: Briana Shu (Cabot), Roaa Ben-Aiad (Bowen)
Bottom: Henry Goldstein (SSDS), Neharika Jayanth (Burr), Mia Dalzell (Bowen)

A Destination Imagination team of Newton 4th graders has earned top honors in the state and will represent Massachusetts in the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, TN over Memorial Day weekend.  This is the 5th year in a row that Newton students have won this honor!  This team won by engineering a structure weighing 28 grams yet holding 720 pounds — more than held by any other team’s structure in the state.  The team of students from Bowen, Cabot, Burr, and Solomon Schechter also had to create and present a performance, including a technical component, to a panel of judges.

Destination Imagination (DI) is a global creative problem-solving competition for teams of up to seven children in Grades K-12 to collaborate on solutions to unique STEAM challenges. Students work independently from parents and learn life skills such as communicating and listening, empathy towards others, being a problem solver, and making connections across complex ideas.

Newton DI was formed eight years ago and has been growing ever since, with 17 teams participating this year. Matthew Miller, founder of Newton DI, says, “In DI, parents are not allowed to be a part of the solution. As a result, we see participants taking risks, learning new skills, and stepping outside of their comfort zone. The best feeling in the world is when a parent at the end of the season tells me that they have never seen their child any happier.”

Mass. Science Olympiad Results: Newton North 2nd, Newton South 3rd

Congratulations to the Science Teams of Newton North HS and Newton South HS for placing 2nd and 3rd respectively among 51 high school teams in the preliminary results of this year’s Massachusetts Science Olympiad held at Framingham State University. Each team competed in 25 events throughout the all-day event.Acton-Boxborough placed first, as it has since 2009, when Newton North last came out on top.

LigerBots Compete and Receive Awards at North Shore Event

The Newton LigerBots participated in their first 2018 district competition this weekend, the North Shore District Event at Reading Memorial HS.  During the opening ceremonies, the team’s award-winning Safety Award Animation was shown, and on the second day of competition team CTO Cam played the national anthem on his trumpet. The LigerBots participated in competitions for FIRST awards as well as the FIRST Power Up competition. At the end of regular competition matches, the team was ranked 10th.  The LigerBots were selected by the Bionics from Billerica to be on Alliance 6, joined by Terminal Velocity from Burlington. The LigerBots also scored a record-setting high score of 861 for this game.

The LigerBots were recognized with several awards:

  • The team received recognition for winning the 2018 FIRST Safety Animation Award, sponsored by UL, for the team’s Safety Animation video, which will be played at 160 FRC competitions worldwide this year.
  • Team mentor Igor Tepermeister was named a Woody Flowers Nominee at this competition, advancing to the next level of competition. This award recognizes an outstanding individual motivator for excellence in communicating and challenging students to communicate clearly and succinctly.
  • The team received the Imagery Award, given in honor of Jack Kamen, Dean’s father, for his dedication to art and illustration and his devotion to FIRST. This award celebrates attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual aesthetic integration of machine and team appearance. The judges said, “This award rewards [the LigerBots’] ability to do hard work, great design, and agility. Their planning is professional, and their presence is essential. For these reasons and their elegant bots, the Imagery Award goes to Team 2877, the LigerBots.”

The LigerBots’ next competition will be at the Greater Boston District Event on April 7-8 at Revere HS (101 School St., Revere), and the events on the final day are free, open to the public, and a blast to see.

Cabot Elementary Celebrates 18th Annual Invention Invasion!

Last Friday evening, students — as teams and individuals — displayed their inventions and results of scientific inquiry at Cabot Elementary School’s 18th annual Invention Invasion — an event sponsored by the Cabot PTO and faculty. This year, the event also featured Night Skies’ Starlab inflatable planetarium for shows every 20 minutes. 

NNHS Ecology Trip to Nicaragua

For the second year in a row, Newton North HS students visited Nicaragua over February vacation to study tropical ecology and sustainable living through the NNHS Global Education Program’s Nicaragua Ecology Trip.  Led by North North HS biology teacher Anndy Dannenberg and Brandeis University ecologist Dr. Eric Olson, the group of 11 students spent two nights on an organic farm (where even human waste is expertly composted), visited an ecolodge (that uses photovoltaics and wind for power and captures rainwater for irrigation and clothes washing), and then spent several days in “community tourism,” boarding with four host families in a small coastal fishing village. The group sighted all three species of monkeys found in Nicaragua, including the elusive spider monkey. A key focus of the trip was studying spiders, to the dismay of some arachnophobes in the group. Other topics of study included:

  • How to recognize and survey for jumping spiders (family Salticidae)?
  • How do hummingbird and “buzz” pollination syndromes work?
  • What allows mangrove trees to thrive in low-oxygen salty mud?
  • How can we access the forest canopy using a mix of caving and rock climbing techniques?
  • How can a non-native invasive tree become an employment opportunity for underemployed fishermen?
  • How many meals of rice and beans can be eaten before one longs for dietary diversity?