The LigerBots have a Blast at Pumpkin Smash!
November 17, 2022
LigerBots students pose on top of a pile of crushed pumpkins during Pumpkin Smash.

On November 6, The LigerBots unveiled two pumpkin-smashing machines for Newton’s annual Pumpkin Smash, an event at City Hall that encourages residents to compost their pumpkins in the best way possible—by throwing, tossing, or crushing them!

Both machines featured massive sledgehammers to obliterate pumpkins, though with slightly-different mechanisms: the first utilized our 2020 robot pulling a rope to trigger its sledgehammer, and the second used balls thrown from our 2022 robot to push its hammer down.

LigerBots students worked tirelessly the past few weeks to design and build the machines. With the guidance of veteran members, first-years learned essential skills in design, prototyping, CAD (computer-aided design), and manufacturing to create the pumpkin-smashing mechanisms.

During Pumpkin Smash, onlookers watch in awe after one of our smashers destroys a pumpkin.

Alongside destroying hundreds of pumpkins, the LigerBots also led a booth for children with hands-on STEAM activities, including our popular binary beads and origami activities.

With the help of LigerBots members, children create bracelets encoding short messages using morse code during Pumpkin Smash.

After the event, the crushed pumpkins were composted by Black Earth Compost to nourish the city’s soil. An estimated 750 to 1,000 Newton residents attended the event, making it a smashing success!   

The aftermath after our smashing mechanisms destroy hundreds of smashed pumpkins.

On Monday, November 7, we launched our annual Mock Three-Day Design process, an activity that brings first-years, veterans, and mentors into the engineering process in preparation for kick off in January. Over three Mondays, design groups will brainstorm, negotiate, organize, and present ideas in robot mechanisms that will help the team during competition season. We can’t wait to see what groups will come up with!

All team members not involved in Mock Three-Day Design are currently preparing for the upcoming FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Newton Qualifier, a LEGO robotics tournament for elementary and middle schoolers. We invite you to come cheer on local FLL teams at this year’s event, which will be on November 19 at Newton North. A STEAM Expo, featuring hands-on science activities for children, will also be hosted. Read here for more information about FLL.

LigerBots continues going strong in team training and fall projects. Engineering students—including many first-years—are upgrading our drivetrain (the mechanism a robot uses to propel itself) to increase freedom on the field and improve modularity compared to past drivetrains. New programming students are beginning to use Java to help program this drivetrain. In the CAD group, first-years are learning basic CAD skills in preparation for a CADathon—a short, collaborative CAD event—over Thanksgiving break. Marketing students are working on contacting clubs and companies to promote our upcoming FLL STEAM Expo, which will happen concurrently with the FLL Tournament. And, in the graphics group, students are developing visual materials for the upcoming First Lego League tournament, including a STEAM flyer for a DIY gimbal activity.

In the graphics group, Coach Diane photographs Katie creating a gimbal for a STEAM activity flyer.

Finally, an exciting announcement—for the entirety of November, the LigerBots’ accomplishments are on display at the Newton Free Library! Come see our two displays, located next to the main desk on the first floor. Thanks to the graphics group for designing the displays! Read our announcement here.

Graphics director Emily next to one of the display cases featuring our team.

For the month of November, the LigerBots’ achievements will be proudly showcased at the Newton Free Library. The two display cases, featuring the LigerBots’ accomplishments in both FIRST Robotics and community outreach, are located next to the main desk on the first floor. A big thanks to the graphics group, led by graphics director Emily and mentor Diane Levy, for creating such beautiful displays!