LigerBots Present 3D Printing Awards, Win “Summer Heat” Event
July 23, 2018
The trophies awarded to the winner and finalist in the LigerBots 2018 3D printing contest

The LigerBots have just announced awards for our third annual 3D printing contest. Our first place trophy was awarded to Boston-based FRC team 125, the Nutrons, for two complex pieces of their Power Cube elevator mechanism. Our finalist trophy was awarded to a New York-based FRC Team 3624, the ThunderColts, for their creative use of 3D printed chains to substitute for more expensive metal links.

This competition was open to anyone using 3D-printed parts for a robotics project but was aimed primarily at FRC teams that used 3D printing in building their robots for the 2018 FRC season. We have seen some amazing uses of 3D printed parts, including teams that printed virtually all of their parts because they had no access to metal shops or other types of equipment, or because they wanted to save time, money, or couldn’t get what they wanted off-the-shelf.

We promoted this year’s competition extensively through social media and by handing out flyers at the pits at competitions we attended. This year we also enlisted the help of teams all over the world to share information about the competition during their regional events. These marketing partners included FRC teams 1058, PVC Pirates (NH); 1991, Dragons (CT); 2702, Rebels (Ontario); 3132, Thunder Down Under (Austrialia); 3146, Granby Grunts (CT); 4416, Skynet (Israel); 4571, Rambots (NY); and 5940, B.R.E.A.D. (CA).

Our first place trophy was awarded to Boston-based FRC team 125, the Nutrons, for two complex pieces of their Power Cube elevator mechanism. A 3D printed elevator carriage retains the end of the belt as it moves up and down the elevator. This carriage consists of three different pieces (separated by 1/16 aluminum) to shorten cut time. There are bearing holes to ensure that the carriage can smoothly slide up and down the elevator.
The Nutrons’ second winning piece is a “turducken” part, (a pulley inside a gear, inside a lever), which makes sure that the cams do not slip. The gear profile allows both sides of the mechanism to have equal pressure. The Nutrons blew us away with these amazing mechanisms!
Our finalist trophy was awarded to a New York-based FRC Team 3624, the ThunderColts, for their creative use of 3D printed chains to substitute for more expensive metal links. The team was able to stress test the links and were able to exceed their safety factor to enable their robot to lift 220 pounds.

Last weekend six LigerBots traveled to South Portland, Maine to compete (and win!) with our 2018 robot in a one day Power Up event, Summer Heat, hosted by FRC team 58, Riot Crew. This offseason competition highlights building relationships and having fun in a low stress environment. Organizers of offseason events often make the gameplay unique by adding minor, quirky elements to the rules. At this year’s Summer Heat, eight blow-up beach balls could be thrown onto the field during the last 30 seconds of each match. Robots could then put these balls through the Exchange, a slot originally intended for “Power Cube” game pieces, for a large number of additional points.

Gil, Mark, Misha, Ali, Samy and Asa at Summer Heat

Our robot performed well even after a full season of play, breakage and repairs. Even when Chronos’ Power Cube intake nearly broke off during a game, we were able to quickly and efficiently perform a repair during the tight turnaround before the next match. This was also an opportunity for our postseason drive team to get some more game experience, and they did great. We lost only one match during the entire competition.

After placing sixth after qualifications matches, we were selected, along with FRC team 885, Robovines, by the first alliance captain, FRC team 4564, Orange Chaos, and we won the entire event!

LigerBots FIRST mentorship and outreach continue into the summer. Several LigerBots are currently helping to run a new FLL team based in Waban. The team sprang from interest created among local families by our highly successful FLL Info Night back in June. The group of five Newton elementary and middle school school students has recently met at the house of our new CMO, Meredith, to make plans for the future of the team. LigerBots will help the new FLL team make its own FLL practice table and assist the group into the fall as it prepares for the 2018 FLL game, “Into Orbit,” which has an outer-space theme.

LigerBots Represent at the FIRST National Advocacy Conference
July 1, 2018
LigerBots in front of the US Capitol building in Washington DC, during the FIRST National Advocacy Conference.

This past week, the LigerBots represented Massachusetts along with the Green Reapers (FRC Team 1735, from Worcester) in Washington, D.C. to advocate with the rest of the 250 FIRST National Advocacy Conference attendees for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act of 2006 and for provision of the full budget allocated for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Funds from the Perkins Act provide grants for technical education and STEM opportunities in second careers to those who may otherwise not be able to afford it. ESSA includes a flexible block grant program under Title IV Part A, which can be used by school districts to provide and expand high-quality classroom-based and afterschool STEM programs. 

Our second goal was to grow connections with staffers and other FRC teams. We were given the opportunity to speak with Representative Kennedy III, as well as staffers from the offices of Senators Warren and Markey, and Representative Capuano.  

LigerBots and Green Reapers join staffers from the office of Senator Elizabeth Warren outside her office.

Before the conference began we went to the American Museum of Natural History.

Meredith sees what she would look like as an early human at the American Museum of Natural History.

On the first day of advocacy training, Steve Hyer (conference organizer and former mentor of FRC team 27, RUSH), Don Bossi (president of FIRST), and Dr. Jeff Weld (from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) spoke about the importance of STEM advocacy and gave a brief civics 101 lesson about how a bill gets passed. When the day was over, the LigerBots went back to the hotel to to work on preliminary drafts of our pitch to our representatives.

LigerBots and Green Reapers work on presentations to their congressional representatives.

On the second day we attended presentations given by representatives from a number of educational organizations from across the U.S. about ESSA, Perkins, and how to advocate for a bill. We also listened to presentations by other FIRST teams about state-level advocacy efforts. We met with the Green Reapers to discuss and prepare our Senate pitch, and went out for a team-bonding dinner to get to know more about their team.

LigerBots present their case for reauthorization of the Perkins Act to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s staffers.

On the last day, fueled by a breakfast of pancakes, we entered the congressional offices, confident and ready to convince our representatives that this funding needs to happen. We talked a bit about FIRST and how the STEM community represents our future generation of engineers. We described how we want to grow FIRST and STEM by reauthorizing the Perkins Act and fully funding ESSA.

LigerBots meet with MA Rep. Joe Kennedy III in his office.

After a successful wrap-up of our presentations, we attended a reception, representing Massachusetts along with the Green Reapers. We met Fatima Terry from the Department of Defense (DoD), who said she’d like to have further exchanges between the LigerBots and the DoD about how to help students find their passions and pursue them more deeply before college. Each of us has come back to Newton inspired to promote the mission of supporting the funding of well-rounded STEM programs, and we look forward to attending next year’s conference; hopefully with an even greater number of team members.

FIRST teams attending the FIRST National Advocacy Conference.

LigerBots Hold FLL Info Night
June 22, 2018

This past Sunday the LigerBots had a fun day in the sun, with bicycles and robots! We talked with many cyclists of all ages at our booth on the lawn of Newton City Hall during the Tour de Newton, an annual bicycling event at which families ride in groups around the entire city. Kids swarmed the robot, and before long we had a line of children waiting to drive the robot and catch the ball. We also had a chance to promote our upcoming FLL Info Night.

LigerBots demonstrate Chronos at the Tour de Newton
Samy helps a child drive Chronos at the Tour de Newton

On Wednesday evening parents and kids joined the LigerBots at Newton North High School for our annual informational evening about how to start and maintain an FLL team. (FIRST LEGO League is a LEGO robotics program for kids age 10 to 14. FLL Jr. is a project-based program for kids between the ages of 6 and 10.)  LigerBots coaches and team members gave a slideshow and talk to explain FIRST and FLL to parents in a packed NNHS lecture hall. LigerBots sponsor Empow Studios sent two representatives, including the company’s founder, to speak about the Empow Studios FLL program.

LigerBots give a talk about FLL in the Newton North High School Film Lecture Hall

Meanwhile, LigerBots team members kept the kids engaged in the hallway with demos and activities, including paper airplane construction, Snap Circuits, coloring, molding crayons, spaghetti-and-marshmallow tower construction, brush bots, and button making.

A girl works on her marshmallow-and-spaghetti tower
Maggie helps a girl create her custom button
Samy helps out at the crayon making station
Alex helps with paper airplane construction

Joining us was Jr. FLL team Aqua Brick, with student members from Franklin Elementary School, whose great project and presentation helped generate parent interest in the FLL Jr. program.

Team Aqua Brick stands ready to answer questions at FLL Info Night

The LigerBots were also proud to host the Day Dragons, an FLL team of students from Day Middle School whose hard work this year took them all the way to the FLL World Championship in Detroit. Our FLL Info Night two years ago was the spark that ignited their team. This year they helped bring FLL to life for the families at Info Night by demonstrating their robot on a 2017 FLL field.

The Day Dragons demonstrate their 2017 FLL robot for FLL Info Night attendees

The children were so engaged that they had to be wrestled away from our activities by their parents at the end of the evening. We had 21 parents express interest in finding, founding, or expanding an FLL or Jr. FLL team. There are already three new teams being formed! The LigerBots will be following their progress and lending a hand where we can.

If you are interested in FLL or Jr. FLL and want to get in on all the excitement, or have any questions, the presentation we gave can be found here. Feel free to contact us directly at [email protected], or visit our website for more information.



LigerBots Hold Annual Awards Night
June 14, 2018

Last Monday, the LigerBots held our annual awards night to celebrate the team’s year. Parents and sponsors were invited to a potluck dinner in a beautifully decorated Newton South cafeteria. During the after-dinner ceremonies, the mentors got a standing ovation, and students were given unique awards based on their year-long contribution. Everybody got their medals for making it to finals in the Greater Boston District Event last April.

The Newton South High School cafeteria during awards night

The distinguished students (and their respective awards) were, in no particular order, Mark: “Stepping Up” for most improvement; Samy: “Wizard of Wiring,” for all her work on the electrical component of the robot, Matthew H.: “For the Good of the Order,” for organizing scouting at competitions: Jiaming: “Outstanding Player,” for all his work fixing machines in our wood and metal shop; Misha: “Stepping Up,” for most improvement; Arushi: “Exceptional Leadership,” for being a fantastic technical leader; Ali: “Rookie Inspiration,” for his hard work on many projects;  Douglas: “Gracious Professionalism” for his work on the Chairman’s Award submission, Ian: “Lifetime Achievement,” for his four years of contributions to the team: Vivek: “Cooperation,” for being a good team player, Jordan Y.: “For the Good of the Order” for organizing scouting, Sophia: “Recruitment” for her success in bringing new team members onboard; Asa: “Outstanding Leadership,” for his willingness to work on any project, and AJ: “Rookie All-Star,” for doing so much work her first year.

Sophia receives her award certificate for Excellence in Recruiting

Cameron, Ian, and Doug were also honored for their service as team executives during  2017/18.

The 2017/18 execs with the newly-elected 2018/19 execs: Samy (2018/19 CTO) Doug (2017/18 CMO), Meredith (2018/19 CMO), Jordan (2018/19 COO), Cam (2017/18 CTO) and Ian (2018/19 COO).

Mentors Greer and Pam were given awards for their outstanding work with the team this past year. Thanks to coach Kraus for organizing our awards night!

Greer Swiston shows off the Star Wars Monopoly game she received as a mentor award

Even though we are in the middle of final exams, the LigerBots have two outreach events during the week coming up. On Sunday, June 17 we will be at a station near Newton City Hall from 9:00-12:00 during the Tour de Newton bicycling event. On Wednesday, June 20, we will host an information night for parents and children interested in joining the FIRST LEGO League program for children in grades 4-8. This will be held in the Newton North High School Film Lecture Hall from 7:00-8:30. There will be lots of information for parents about how to start an FLL team, and there will be fun activities for their children. Please join us at these events!

LigerBots March in Parade, Meet with our Mayor
June 8, 2018

During late May the LigerBots marched in Newton’s Memorial Day parade, met with our mayor, and attended several outreach events, all while wrapping up the school year.

We walked in the Newton Memorial Day parade in the cold rain, with our 2016 and 2018 robots covered in plastic bags when it drizzled, to protect their electronic components. Our team crossed the finish line at Magni-Coletti Park, tossing a ball into Mayor Fuller’s hands with our 2016 robot and collecting our Cabot’s ice-cream reward. It was cool to see all the people who came out in support of the veterans, even with the terrible New England weather!

Newton mayor Ruthanne Fuller joins the LigerBots at the start of the Newton Memorial Day parade
The LIgerBots march in the parade while driving the 2016 robot down the street and shooting the ball to the crowd

We had another opportunity to meet with Mayor Fuller a week later when more than fifteen LigerBots students met with her in her office at Newton City Hall so she could congratulate us on our achievements this season. She also encouraged the girls on our team to run for leadership positions. She wore an orange dress to advocate for gun violence awareness, which coincidentally coordinated very well with our orange tie-dye t-shirts! We thanked Mayor Fuller for her generous contributions to the team, both personal and city-wide, and gave her a packet of information about the LigerBots.

Mayor Fuller talks with LigerBots team members in her office in City Hall
The LigerBots with Mayor Fuller in her office

During post-season we do a lot of outreach events. This week we attended the ECIA Conference and Newton South Science Day. We brought our 2016 robot to the ECIA (Electronic Components Industry Association) conference at the Westin Waltham Boston hotel and spoke about the FIRST organization with about 80 people in the robotics and electronic manufacturing industries, some of which were from companies that supply parts we have on our robot. They enjoyed driving the robot and catching the ball it throws.

Spencer shows features of the 2016 robot to an attendee at the ECIA conference
Lauren talks about the LigerBots with ECIA conference attendees

At Newton South Science Day, a fair that showcases student science projects, we demonstrated our robot for our fellow students at Newton South High School. The students were very eager to take photos of our robot!

Please look for us in June when we do more outreach in our community: at the Weston Field School on June 9 in a demo for elementary school students, at Newton Highlands Village Day on June 10 from 11a.m. -4 p.m., at the Tour de Newton bicycling event on June 17 from 9 a.m. -1 p.m., and at our own FIRST LEGO League Info Night, at Newton North High School on June 20 from 7-9 p.m.

We recently held annual elections for the three general leadership positions on our team: the chief operating officer (COO), the chief technical officer (CTO), and the chief marketing officer (CMO). Eleven people made speeches advocating their strengths and responded to questions from the team about how they would handle the the tasks that would come with the positions. From among these the team chose three students that we know will do a great job of helping to run our team next school year.

Candidates for COO give election speeches to the team

We wished farewell to our seniors as they graduated from Newton North on Wednesday and from South on Thursday. We will miss them dearly and wish them the best in their college careers. It was a treat to have Mayor Fuller make a generous acknowledgment of the LigerBots in her speech at the graduation, saying we were a team she had learned a lot from.

All in all, May has been a wonderful month for us!