World Robot Olympiad – Still Time to Register for the MA/CT Qualifying Competition, Aug. 11

Next month, Semia USA will host the Massachusetts/Connecticut qualifying competition for the national level of the World Robot Olympiad in September. The MA/CT qualifier will take place at the Woburn Boys & Girls Club (1 Charles Gardner Ln, Woburn) on August 11, 8AM-6PM. Competition will take place in these categories: Regular (both Jr. High and Elementary) and WeDo (for ages up to 10). While the Introductory Info session was held back in May, it’s still possible to register a team (at at cost of $150 per team, plus materials). And the event is open to spectators without registration. For more information, contact Jeannette Passanisi at jpassanisi@semia.com or 617-959-4305.

Apply Now for STEM Pathways One-Day Lab Training in Synthetic Biology for Grades 10-12, July 14

Monday at 10PM is the deadline to apply for a one-day Training Session in Synthetic Biology in a real, synthetic biology environment. It’s offered to students entering Grades 10-12 (ages 16 and older) by STEM Pathways — the synthetic biology outreach program of the Living Computing Project — and the DAMP (Design | Automation | Manufacturing | Prototyping) Lab.  It will be held 10AM-4PM on July 14 on the Boston University campus. Apply online by 10PM on July 2. Include the name, email, and phone number of a teacher, mentor, or coach as a reference. For more information, email connect@stempathways.org. or call Rohin at 617-299-0816.

Open House at MIT PlayLabs, July 3

The MIT Game Lab invites the public to an open house on July 3, 5-8PM, at 32 Vassar Street in Cambridge to try out the latest products and games from companies it is hosting at Play Labs. Technologies include educational games and tools, augmented/mixed reality, blockchain, eSports, natural language, artificial intelligence, etc. The Game Lab will also showcase CLEVR, a multiplayer virtual-reality game about cellular biology that it is developing with the MIT Education Arcade. For more information, email gamelab-request@mit.edu.

Register for Broad Institute’s Midsummer Night’s Science, July 18

The Broad Institute hosts Midsummer Nights’ Science, a series of lectures open to the public on a variety of topics.  Each is held at 415 Main Street, Kendall Square, Cambridge, on a Wednesday, 6:30-7:30PM, and followed by a reception. Registration is required, opens on a rolling basis, and is available now for the first lecture.

How to Plug Into the FIRST LEGO League in Newton

While the high-school FIRST Robotics Competition action in Newton is focused on the highly visible LigerBots, parents and kids may find it a bit difficult to get going in the younger levels, FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for Grades 4-8 and FIRST LEGO League Jr. for Grades K-3. There are about 15 FLL teams and at least a few FLL Jr. teams in Newton. Parents may want to find a team for their kids to join, but it’s sometimes not easy to add kids to existing teams. The best way to get your kids involved is to start a team, and there’s lots of help available — online as well as from others in Newton — to get you going.

The LigerBots provide support for developing FLL and FLL Jr. teams.  Last week, the LigerBots held an information session for interested parents (see photos), and each fall the team runs two FLL tournaments — a regional qualifier and the Eastern Massachusetts Championship — at Newton North HS, where parents and kids can see what it’s all about. The team also maintains a webpage of FLL information useful for parents and coaches.  If you missed last week’s information session, you can see the presentation here. You can also fill out the LigerBots’ FLL Survey to get on their mailing list and ask to be connected with nearby parents and kids interested in forming FLL or FLL Jr. teams. The LigerBots will follow up with respondents soon. You can also email fll@ligerbots.org with questions or requests for help.

In addition, Empow Studios is hosting FLL teams that will meet on Sundays in Newton and Lexington. Their online application has more information.

FLL Jr for Grades K-3 has challenges based on the same theme as the Grade 4-8 FLL teams, but with more age-appropriate materials. The theme for 2018/2019 is “Mission Moon.”  Teams are given a general problem to solve, and each team decides how they want to solve it and then creates a Lego model to illustrate their solution, creates a poster to go into more depth, and prepares a talk to explain their work.  Teams are 2-6 students and 2 or more coaches.

Mass. Audubon Citizen Science: Join the Firefly Watch

All are invited to participate in the Massachusetts Audubon Society‘s citizen-science project, Firefly Watch, to track the geographic distribution of fireflies along with the environmental factors affecting their abundance. Learn how to participate (10 minutes a week) and see interim results.

BlocksCAD STEM Workshop in Somerville, July 9-13

Boston-based BlocksCAD is a STEM education technology company offering a cloud-based 3D-modeling tool to help users (primarily in Grades 4-6) to have fun learning math, computational thinking, and coding through visualization and 3D printing. Sol Menashi (STEM educator and former program manager of the DARPA BlocksCAD project) and Jenny Yoder (principal developer of the BlocksCAD software), co-founded the company last year to help educators and students use this technology.

The company will host a five-day BlocksCAD Workshop, 9AM-Noon, July 9-13, at Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Ave., Somerville). Participants will have fun, learn coding and design skills, and take home two 3D prints of their own design. The cost is $300. To register, email adriana@blockscad3d.com or call 413-682-6745.

Highland Street Foundation: Free Fun Fridays at Museums This Summer

The Highland Street Foundation is bringing back Free Fun Fridays, during which it provides support to about 100 selected museums and cultural venues open to everyone for free on specified Fridays. Here are the STEM-oriented Free Fun Fridays on the schedule this summer:

Empow Studios Opens on Needham Street; Open House June 23

Empow Studios opened its beautifully designed new studio space in Newton at 180 Needham Street last week, with enthusiastic staff and representatives of the mayor’s office and Chamber of Commerce celebrating the ribbon-cutting. Families with children in Grades 2-8 are invited to register for an Open House and Student Showcase on June 23, in one of four time slots (12PM, 12:30PM, 1PM, 1:30PM) for a tour and preview of programs:  Summer Camps (June 25 – August 31), STEM After School ClubSTEM Clubs and Classes (Weekday & Weekend), and Birthday Parties.

First Meeting of NEMO: New England (FIRST) Mentor’s Organization, June 26

New England FIRST Mentor’s Organization (NEMO) will hold its inaugural meeting on June 26, 6-8PM, at MassRobotics (12 Channel Street, Suite 502, in Boston). Register by June 19. NEMO aims to help FIRST mentors become better mentors, and meetings will include presentations and networking. This inaugural meeting will be introduced by the Regional Director of NE FIRST and will include a presentation about off-season projects for FIRST Robotics Competition teams.