Congratulations to the LigerBots — Newton’s robotics team spanning both high schools — for placing first in a worldwide competition to create a short animated video explaining and supporting safety guidelines of FIRST robotics competitions. Winning the 2018 FIRST Safety Animation Award, sponsored by UL, is a highly visible achievement, as the team’s safety video will be seen by about 500,000 spectators at various FIRST robotics competitions worldwide throughout the 2018 season. On the LigerBots blog, the team describes the inspiration and challenges of creating this engaging, informative video based on the theme of this year’s competition, Power Up.
In last week’s FIRST LEGO League Eastern Massachusetts Championship, hosted by the LigerBots, the Day Dragons — the team that won the event’s top honor (the Champions’ Award for the best overall performance in each aspect of the competition) — consisted of four 7th graders from F. A. Day Middle School and two 5th graders from Peirce Elementary School. Last Sunday’s NewtonSTEM post lauded the Day students, and we now heartily congratulate the award-winning students from Peirce, as well!
Seven Newton-based FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics teams competed in the Eastern Massachusetts FLL State Championship, hosted by the Ligerbots at Newton North HS yesterday, and four of them won awards. The event drew a crowd of over 1,000 FLL team participants, coaches, mentors, volunteers, and spectators.
- The Day Dragons, a team of four 7th graders from F. A. Day Middle School and two 5th graders from Peirce Elementary School, won the top honor for the event — the Champions’ Award, for the best overall performance in each aspect of the competition. This includes the team’s performance in the robotics competition, the team’s presentation of research results in this year’s area of focus (Hydro Dynamics), and the team’s demonstration of FLL’s Core Values.
- The Botanists were part of the 1st-place alliance for the Lightning Round, in which teams are paired for collaboration in matches that run in half the time.
- The Block Party team earned the second-place Programming award.
- The Snowy Owls won the award for “Most Reliable Robot.”
Other Newton-based FLL teams that earned the right, in earlier qualifying events, to participate in the Eastern Massachusetts Championship were the Hydro-Dragons, the Newtronics, and the Roaming Rovers. Congratulations to all seven teams!
The LigerBots also hosted a maker fair that drew participation from such local groups as Destination Imagination, the New Art Center, Students for Greener World, and others. There was even a taste of Star Wars, with a Stormtrooper and Imperial Droid on hand!
Yesterday, the Newton LigerBots high-school robotics team hosted the Newton Qualifier competition for 24 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams, including these 7 teams from Newton (in this photo, left to right): Day Dragons, Vikings, Roaming Rovers, Outlaws of Newton, Tacocats, Atomic Bots, and Newtronics. Each team built and programmed a LEGO Mindstorms robot to accomplish 18 separate missions in the competition. Each team also completed a research project related to this year’s theme, Hydro Dynamics, and presented results to a team of adult judges. Finally, each team was interviewed and scored on how well they exhibited FLL’s Core Values.
Newton teams won the following FLL awards: The Day Dragons won the Champion’s Award. The Newtronics won the Teamwork Award. The Roaming Rovers won the Software Programming Award. And the Tacocats won the Research Project Award. The Day Dragons, Roaming Rovers, and Newtronics each qualified to advance to the Eastern Massachusetts State Championship, which will be held at Newton North HS on December 16 (again hosted by the LigerBots). That event, too, will be free, open to the public, and a lot of fun, with more teams competing and more hands-on exhibits in the accompanying Maker Fair.
On October 21, the Newton LigerBots competed in the Bay State Brawl, an off-season FIRST Robotics event based on last year’s game. The team achieved the high score for the day but did not win the overall competition. Perhaps more importantly, the LigerBots won the Robo-Ohana Award for the team that works together best and makes all team members feel accepted and included.
In less than a week since Unruly Studios launched its Kickstarter campaign for Unruly Splats, the campaign is more than halfway to its goal. Deadline is November 3.
The LigerBots — Newton’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team spanning both high schools — hosted a 3D printing contest for other FRC teams worldwide. It was open to anyone using 3D-printed parts for a robotics project but was aimed primarily at FRC teams that used 3D printing in building their robots for the 2017 FRC season.
1st Place: FRC Team 2702 – the Rebels of Ontario, Canada for using 3D printing for nearly all the parts for their robot.
2nd Place: FRC Team 2079 – 4H ALARM Robotics from Franklin, Massachusetts for creating a low-cost, light-weight ramp with extensions for adjusting its length.
3rd Place: FRC Team 207 – METALCRAFTERS from Hawthorne, California for using an iterative design process and 3D printing to create a climbing mechanism.
Eighth-grade Earth Science teachers at two Newton middle schools — F. A. Day and Brown — have been testing a new curriculum, Building Systems from Scratch, that empowers students to use the Scratch programming environment to create games that teach climate science. The curriculum, developed by researchers at TERC (Technical Education Research Centers), covers 20 hours of instruction and is aligned with both Massachusetts science education standards and CSTA standards for computer science. As shown in this video, students work in pairs on programming, do independent research on climate science, and engage in “design studio” critique sessions. Assessments are showing that this curriculum based on game design yields benefits in students’ understanding of both climate science and computational thinking.
Michelle Fox (8th Grade Science teacher at Brown) said, “The kids were really engaged with this project! They came out of it understanding the implications of climate change and our collective responsibility in mitigating its effects. The broader learning goal to the project — to help students understand systems thinking, with its balancing and reinforcing feedback loops — was very different from how I’d ever presented the material before. As a teacher and an adult learner, I really appreciated that shift in focus and will continue to use it. I also had a great time learning Scratch along with the kids!”
Newton’s other two middle schools, Bigelow and Oak Hill, will begin using the Building Systems from Scratch curriculum next year.
This weekend the LigerBots participated in the two-day “Battlecry” post-season FIRST competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, ending the Qualifying Rounds ranked 8th of 59 teams with a 6-2-0 record. The team was also awarded the Distinguished Controls award, a Judge’s Award for inspired robot-operator interaction as demonstrated through interface and programming excellence. The team plans to compete in one more post-season competition, Beantown Blitz, on June 24 at Revere High School. It’s free and open to the public.
At Bowen Elementary School today, 200 students in Grades K-5, on 125 teams, presented amazing projects at their Science Day. The PTO provided posterboard, online resources, encouragement in the weeks beforehand, and a low-stress, cooperative environment for exploration, inquiry, and presentation. Parent scientists visited with each team to engage them in the results of their work, and each exhibit had comment forms for visitors. Also exhibiting were the LigerBots, Green Newton, Destination Imagination, Cambridge Science Festival, Bowen’s BASCP after-school program. Congratulations and thanks to the PTO organizers and school staff. This is what STEM events can be.