LigerBots Host Newton Qualifier FLL Tournament and Maker Fair
November 20, 2018

The LigerBots hosted one of our most exciting events of the year last Saturday at Newton North High School: the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Newton Qualifier robotics competition and maker fair.  About 300 competitors, spectators and visitors attended the event–a mashup of sporting event, science fair, family reunion and dance party!

Twenty-three teams of students in grades four to eight competed with their LEGO robots in this year’s space-exploration-themed FLL game, called “Into Orbit.” The teams also displayed research projects on space-based themes. Among the six teams from Newton were the Supernovas, which is being mentored by three LigerBots students.

LigeBots-mentored team the Supernovas react to their robot’s progress
The LazerRobotics drive team waits for referee Jeffrey’s verdict on their points earned
The Day Dragons earn their spot in the Eastern MA State Championship
The Brattle Street Bobcats FLL team with their Into Orbit project

By the end of the Qualifier seven teams, including Newton-based Roaming Rovers and Day Dragons, had qualified for the Eastern MA State Championship. This state championship competition will include 48 teams and an even bigger maker fair, and will be hosted by the LigerBots at Newton North High School on December 15 from 9-4. Bring your families and come watch!

The Newton Qualifier award winners
The competing teams with the LigerBots

Accompanying the qualifier tournament was a maker fair featuring hands-on activities brought by local companies and organizations, including the Newton Free Library, Green Newton, Einstein’s Workshop, Empow Studios, Droid Builders, SharkNinja, Hatch Makerspace, and Johnson String Instrument.

Students try out cellos at the Johnson String Instrument maker fair table
Staff from Einstein’s Workshop help FLL team members make straw rockets
An family takes apart a robot vacuum at the SharkNinja maker fair table
Visitors make Perler bead designs at the Newton Free Library table
The Empow Studios table welcomes visitors
Members of the Techno Rangers FLL team interact with the Droid Builders’ replica Star Wars robots

LigerBots trained with FIRST officials to be competition field resetters and referees, and our entire team staffed the event from start to finish. As well as doing all of the set up and breakdown for the event, LigerBots MC’d the competition, queued up teams for their matches and judging sessions, ran the concession stand, and assisted the FLL teams in finding their way through North High School. LigerBots staffed many hands-on STEAM activities of our own at the maker fair, including button making, paper airplanes, origami, 3D printing, brush bots, pb&j robot, and binary beads. And, of course, we demonstrated our own robot!

Members of the Supernovas FLL team try to give LigerBot Jadon, who is pretending to be a robot, some precise instructions on how to build a Sunbutter and jelly sandwich
Ethan explains 3D printing to maker fair visitors
David helps students make a custom button
LigerBots mentor Greer helps children do origami at the maker fair
The LigerBots robot demo and outreach table

Near the beginning of the event, a fire alarm was set off, forcing a evacuation. The students staffing the event handled it very well, ushering the FLL teams outside to safety. Even with the fire alarm delay we were well ahead of schedule after all the matches were finished, so we rewarded the FLL teams and LigerBots with a limbo session, dance jam, and soccer party!

Meredith leads the dance party
A long limbo line forms during the wait for awards announcements

We can’t wait to do it all over again on December 15 at the Eastern MA State ChampionshipFor more photos of the Newton Qualifier and maker fair, please visit our Flickr album for this event.

The Friday before our FLL tournament the LigerBots helped put together a Women In STEM event at Newton North High School. This event, which spanned the entire school day, celebrated the accomplishments of women in STEM fields with the goal of inspiring girls to pursue STEM careers.

Several LigerBots worked with the Newton North science team and engineering classes to host a series of talks and question-answering sessions by accomplished women professionals in a range of STEM fields. These women discussed topics such as how they came to choose STEM careers, what obstacles and encouragement they encountered, and how they define success. Two of our LigerBots mentors, physicist Noa Rensing and software engineer Carly Buchanan, were part of the professional panel. In addition, the LigerBots set out an outreach table and taught fellow students how to drive our 2016 robot during Newton North’s three lunch blocks.  We hope that some of the students we talked to will be inspired to join our team and to pursue STEM careers!