This season has certainly been an interesting one! We are extremely proud of all the hard work we did before the competition, unfortunately, came to an abrupt halt. A special congratulations to our Chairman’s team who won the Greater Boston District award for our team’s continuous STEM-related outreach efforts! In this blog post, we’re going to take a look back at the LigerBots’ first season of the new decade.
This fall, we revamped our pre-season program, experimenting with different methods to find the most hands-on way we can train our rookies. We attended many outreach events around Newton and then, in November and December, hosted two of our own! Both FLL competitions went off without a hitch and we had the biggest turnout in LigerBots history!
The season officially started in January with our annual trip up to New Hampshire for the FRC game kickoff. Once there, we anxiously awaited the reveal of this year’s Star Wars-themed challenge. The field was revealed and the rules were explained to an eager audience. On the way back, we were already starting to brainstorm potential designs for our robot. Build season had begun!
We immediately launched our three-day-design process the next day. The team broke up into many design groups, each coming up with their own plan for the robot. Once they were finished, we all came together to debate the designs and then finalize our robot design for this FRC season.
Groups started making prototypes for different parts of the robot. The CAD team began working on the full model of the robot. The strategy team reviewed the past performance of teams in New England, looking for potential alliance members at our upcoming competitions. Marketing continued with finding sponsorships and planning outreach events to raise funds and spread awareness of STEAM. The entire team was in a constant flurry of activity.
As the weeks marched on, work continued our hard work on all fronts. Designs were finished and mechanisms began to be built. The shop roared to life with the sounds of power tools and motors. We built models of all the field elements from the challenge for our robot to test on and started finalizing the designs of our mechanisms. The manufacturing team worked on the chassis and the electrical team wired the main electrical board. Things were coming together!
Our first competition was rapidly approaching and our robot was gradually taking shape. A few of our strategy components were put to work: our robot was able to fire the ball into the upper goal as well as climb on the swinging beam at the end of the game. The team decided to showcase its spirit by decorating the intake arm with the orange and black LigerBots colors. It was shaping up to be our most immaculate robot yet!
Over February break, we tested the robot’s components and assembled them together to form the final, completed machine. We brought it to a small scrimmage run by a nearby team, the Stormgears— thank you guys for your help!
The first day of the competition did not go as expected. It started off with one of our team members singing the national anthem, but things rapidly fell apart. We won our first match of the qualifiers, but at the end of the round, the robot’s climbing mechanism broke, a serious setback considering how heavily climbing contributed to the match score. We got the climber fixed midday but only won 4 out of 9 matches for the day. Things were looking grim.
But the next day was a complete turnaround! We won our last 2 qualifier matches (ending the qualifiers with 5 straight wins!) and were selected by the seventh-seed alliance. We won a dramatic upset victory against the second-seed alliance and moved on to the semi-finals, where we got eliminated. Despite everything, we felt that it was an incredible comeback and we were proud of ourselves. And at the end of the day, we won the graphics award for our distinctive orange and black color scheme and advanced use of Adobe InDesign!
We were looking forward to the next competition where our robot would be fully functional and improved. But we watched helplessly as, throughout the next couple of weeks, competitions were canceled one by one. Finally, FIRST announced the cancellation of the entire season due to COVID-19. It was an unfortunate and sudden end to a promising season.
However, in the midst of all of the sadness, we found success and hope. NE FIRST recently announced that we won the Chairman’s Award for the Greater Boston District Competition. The Chairman’s Award is a very important award awarded to the team which best exemplifies the ideals of FIRST. Our Chairman’s team worked tirelessly throughout the season to compose all the necessary materials and come up with a plan for the presentation. We received it for the many outreach programs we’ve lead over the years, including, but not limited to, annually hosting two FLL competitions for Eastern Massachusetts. Had it not been canceled, it would have been an automatic qualification to the District Championship. Regardless, we are extremely grateful for the recognition of our hard work!
Speaking of hard work, the LigerBots have not let quarantine stop us from making a difference in Newton! We noticed that so many parents are forced to do both homeschooling and work full-time jobs at home due to the epidemic, so we wanted to think of a way to help them. A few weeks ago, we launched the “Awesome Mentorship Project 2877,” in which high schoolers are matched with elementary schoolers throughout Newton. The pairs meet online once a week and read together, play games, do science experiments — whatever their heart desires! The program has been a smash hit with parents so far; we already have more than 70 student-mentor pairs! We’re excited to see where this program goes and if we’ll be able to introduce a summer camp opportunity in the near future!
Despite the turmoil of the season, we are still very excited to get back to work in time for next year. We’ll see you all then!