Category Archives: Events

Support Newton Ligerbots at FRC Worldwide Championships!

The Newton Ligerbots have just learned that they have qualified for, and received a coveted invitation to, the top high-school robotics competition worldwide — the FRC World Championships in St. Louis, April 23-26.  This culminates their award-winning season of engaging, fun competitions that celebrate excellence in design, collaboration, and STEM while building leadership, self-confidence, and communication skills.  This team — spanning both high schools — needs your financial support to make the trip.

Can you, as a loyal, committed NewtonSTEM reader, provide some financial support to help the Ligerbots attend this worldwide event?  The team registration fee alone is $5000.  Travel costs for students and adult coaches/chaperones will be about $15,000 for a bus plus $9000 for rooms.  The team has already secured grants totaling almost $12,350 from NDEP, PTC, Textron, FedEx, and Newton Public Schools, specifically for this competition.  Ligerbot students’ families are ready to pay substantial amounts to make this happen.  But there’s a gap because not all families can afford the cost.

You can make a tax-deductible contribution to the Ligerbots’ success — in any amount, large or small — through the Newton Schools Foundation:

  • Online:  Click the “Donate” button at to use PayPal or credit card;
  • By check:  Send it to “Newton Schools Foundation”, 246 Dudley Rd., Newton, MA 02459 (with “Ligerbots Championship” in the memo line); or
  • By phone:  Call the Newton Schools Foundation office at 617-559-6120 with your credit card and say your donation is for the Ligerbots Championship.

Thank you, NewtonSTEM readers, for your concrete support of STEM education excellence!

Cambridge Science Festival, April 18-28

The Cambridge Science Festival is the national leader in its field, with over 100 activities and events spanning 10 days, April 18-28.  You can filter this year’s online schedule of events by age (family/teens/adults) and type (activities, workshops, performances, talks, other) or by date.  Some events require pre-registration or tickets.  Some are for educators.  The Science Carnival on Saturday, April 19, 12-4PM, has five themes:  Earth & Space, Micro-Zone, No Limits, Game Corner, and Robot Zoo!  It’s too much to keep in your head.  Download the Guidebook app and search for “Cambridge Science Festival 2014″ to get your mobile guide to events.

MIT AeroAstro Open House, April 23

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astrophysics is hosting its AeroAstro Open House on April 23, 10AM-2PM.  It’s free and open to all ages.  Visit the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel (it’s named for them; it’s not one that they used!).  Tour the Gas Turbine Lab and the Interactive Robotics Lab.  Build a parachute to protect an egg in a drop of two stories.  Learn about materials science, rocketry, environmental effects of aviation, unmanned aerial vehicles, and more.  Everything takes place in Building 33 (map) and surrounding Buildings 17, 31, 34, and 41 on the MIT campus. For information, email

Register for Elementary STEM(2) Summit, June 4

The Northeast Regional Readiness Center and Gordon College will host the Elementary STEM2 Summit on June 4, 9AM-2:30PM, at Gordon College in Wenham (map).  This free event will bring together innovators, teachers, administrators, policy makers, and STEM enthusiasts to explore STEM instruction and advancement in elementary education.  Breakout sessions will focus on elementary STEM resources, STEM grant identification, and grant writing.  Funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Race to the Top Fund.  Register online.  For information, contact Christine Shaw at the Northeast Regional Readiness Center (978-542-2349,

Ligerbots at BU Tomorrow for FIRST New England Championships

Newton’s FIRST robotics team, the Ligerbots, is competing in the premier New England high-school robotics competition — the FIRST New England Championships — going on now, April 10-12, at Boston University’s Agganis Arena.  See the Ligerbots’ competions live at the arena (free and open to the public) or via livestream video.  On Saturday, the Ligerbots will have qualification meets at 9:51AM and 11:29AM, and in the afternoon the teams that qualify will compete in elimination rounds.  (If things go well, look for Ligerbots’ team number 2877 in the elimination schedule.)  The winning teams will go on to the FIRST National Championships in St. Louis, April 23-26.  From

The game itself is a combination of soccer and basketball played with an “alliance” of three robots. During the round robins the teams are random, almost like a pickup basketball game. At the elimination stage an alliance remains consistent for the remainder of the competition.

STE(A)M Events at Newton Free Library in April

The Newton Free Library has these upcoming STEAM events (“A” is for Art):

Making Things in 3D: Design to Print (for Adults):  Wednesday, April 16, 6:30PM.  Learn how to design three-dimensional objects using free computer-aided design software and then print them on the library’s new 3D printer.  Space is limited.  Register at

Rockets:  There and Back Again.  Presented by the Museum of Science.  Hands-on workshop to create an air rocket that launches across the room, and engineer a way for a payload to return safely to Earth.  Space is limited.  Register at  Two sessions on Thursday, April 24:
Grades K-5:   2PM (those under 10 must be accompanied by an adult)
Grades 6-12:  3PM

Mini-Creator Faire:  Saturday, April 26, 1-4PM  Event to launch a year of STEAM programs at the Library.  Tech enthusiasts, traditional crafters, artists, musicians, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, and students will gather to show their work and interact.

MIT’s Education Design Shop, May 3-4

MIT’s Education Design Shop is a two-day workshop to learn about “design thinking” and use it to design for a systemic change in education.  The Spring 2014 workshop will be held May 3-4 at the Cambridge Innovation Center to “re-envision the education system.”  Topics include: Integrating the Arts into STEM Education, Motivational Structures In and Out of the Classroom, and Resources and Support Structures for Retention and Diversity.  Apply online by April 16.  For more information, check FAQs or email

MIT Science on Saturday, May 10: Materials with Magical Properties

MIT’s Edgerton Center presents Science on Saturday, a free, fun, 60-minute session for elementary, middle-, and high-school students.  On May 10, the focus will be on Materials with Magical Properties.  Students from MIT’s Department of Materials Science will conduct on-stage demonstrations with assistance from the audience.   After the show, there will be activity booths for hands-on experiments.  Seating is limited and first-come/first-served.  Adult escort required for children under 12.   The event will be held 10-11AM in MIT Kresge Auditorium, 48 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge.  Park at the West Garage or Albany Street Garage ($5 with a credit card).

Newton Ligerbots Succeed at Northeastern, Qualify for New England Finals

Last week at the Northeastern University District Qualifying Event, Newton’s award-winning FIRST Robotics team, the Ligerbots, won the Team Spirit award and captained the three-team alliance that won second place overall.  The Ligerbots won 8 of 12 qualification rounds and then, with two alliance partners, won second place through 7 more matches.

Winning the previous WPI competition through a grueling 19 rounds took a toll on the Ligerbots’ robot, including a bent chassis and broken arm!  To prepare for the Northeastern competition, the team fine-tuned their robot, improvising solutions during scheduled access periods.

The Ligerbots will now move on to the New England FRC Regional Championship at Boston University on April 10-12.  The team is already considering any shifts in game strategy or adjustments to the robot/programming they may want to employ for this competition.  Come cheer them on!  All FIRST competitions are open to the public, free, and a blast to watch.

What makes FIRST unique and successful is the collaboration among students (46 from Newton North and South High Schools), coaches (Chuck Hurwitz, John Fitzpatrick), mentors (many!), and sponsors (PTC, Raytheon, NDEP, McVittie Tax Advisors, At Once Inc., Whole Foods, Newton Schools Foundation, and the Newton Public Schools).
Ligerbots at Northeastern, 2014

PTO Speaker: Future of Learning in a Networked World

In a free event sponsored by the Newton PTO Council, Cabot PTO, and Mason-Rice PTO, Justin Reich will speak on the Future of Learning in a Networked World.  He’ll discuss how computing technologies are rearranging the kinds of work that people do, the new possibilities for learning created by new technologies, how schools should adapt to a changing world of digital technologies, and what practices should be held constant.  The talk will be on April 9, 7-8:30PM, at Mason-Rice School.  Justin is a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and co-founder of EdTechTeacher.