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!
An Action Packed Week!
March 6, 2020
The LigerBots have had a packed week filled with competitions and outreach events!
Beginning on Thursday, the 27th, the team joined forces with the rest of Newton North for voter registration day to get local residents civically involved. We got the opportunity to talk to local parents, teachers, and city councilors, to further advocate for the role of STEM in our community!
Later that day, we attended 8th grade parent night at Newton North, to inform the incoming class about our team, and how it works. What we really want to stress at events like this, is the fact that truly anyone can join our team, and excel in a diverse group of fields, such as programming, marketing, political advocacy, and many technical engineering skills.
Our third outreach event was on Friday, at the Burr Elementary Science Fair. Here, we interacted with many young kids, and taught them about how our robots work, and the many STEM opportunities available!
The next day, the LigerBots attended their first competition of the year! The event was held in Connecticut with 38 teams from around New England attending, ready to put months of hard work to the test.
Coming into the competition, our robot was expected to perform well, but during the first match, things took an unexpected turn. In this year’s game, a key component is basically the robots pulling themselves up on a giant pivoting metal beam. This one aspect is worth such a large amount of points that succeeding or failing in the climb can make the difference between a win or a loss. During our first climb, an opponent robot illegally rammed into one of our teammates, which shook the beam that we were attempting to climb onto. The result was that our robot fell several feet, breaking our climber.
While we still won the game due to the penalty on the opposing alliance, our climber was badly damaged. Without it, we performed poorly in the rest of the matches on Saturday. However, before the last match of the day, our pit team finally had time to repair our robot. After a tense and busy few minutes, they successfully fixed our climber! Although the day seemed ruined at first, our team stayed hopeful and because of this, the second day of the competition was much more successful.
Although day one did not go as planned, the second day of the competition completely turned around. We won our last 4 qualification matches and continued our winning streak into the quarterfinals. After going undefeated for the whole day, our run ended in the semifinals. Overall, this day was a complete bounceback from the previous days misfortune.
One important part of our team, is our spirit, and visual portrayal. Our team colors are orange and black, so we wrapped many of our robot parts with a vinyl wrap of these colors making it look especially vibrant. Additionally, we came to the competition with a LigerBots flag, and a liger mascot costume! We also have a whole group on our team devoted to graphics, and making sure that we are always looking good. A great example of their work is all of the visual displays in front of our pit, our teams base and robot repair center. For all of these reasons, we were awarded the competition wide Imagery Award!
We ended the week having completed 3 different outreach events, and a competition where we made it to semifinals. Overall, it was a very busy, but very successful week for the LigerBots.
Our First Competition!
March 2, 2020
We just had our first competition last weekend! We competed against 38 other teams at the Woodstock Academy in Woodstock Connecticut. We had a rough start on Saturday but we pulled through on Sunday! We made it all the way to the semi finals and came in at rank 17 out of 38 teams. We are currently working on improvements to our robot and strategy to do even better next time. We hope to see you all there!
February 24, 2020
The LigerBots were very busy over February break!
We got a lot of work done on our robot, so much so that we were able to attend a week zero competition! This gave us a good chance to test out our robot in an actual game. Our first real competition is coming up this weekend and we are anxious to see how things go!
February 14, 2020
This weekend we had three outreach events! One at MIT, one at Newton North High School, and one at Bowen Elementary School. But the rest of the team has not been idle! Let’s see what they’ve been up to.
We started this week off strong with a trio of outreach events in rapid succession. We had the NNHS puzzle day and the MIT hackathon on Saturday, and the Bowen science fair on Sunday. At the Hackathon, a group of six LigerBots showed off our outreach robot and explained what FIRST is to anyone who was interested. At Puzzle Day, the strategy team set up a table and took part in the problem solving and outside the box thinking which characterised the event. And at the Science Fair, we had nearly a dozen coaches and team members showing off our activities and our robot to many curious elementary schoolers.
It took a lot of preparation and planning, but all three were massive successes! We showed off our robot and spoke to many people who were interested in FRC and FIRST. We are always planning more, so stay tuned for the next event!
The rest of the team was busy as well! The manufacturing group has been rapidly assembling the pieces of our robot into their final form. We have already begun integrating our mechanisms onto the chassis. All of the major components have either been added or are being added.
Our finished shooter has been tested and mounted to the robot. We also added the drive train, intake, and carousel ball storage. Our robot is on track to be done in time for competition. We can’t wait to see how well it does!
The awards team has been working on the essay for the chairman’s award, a prestigious prize that few teams are able to win. They enlisted the help of the strategy team in order to finish in time for competition. Awards is always a very important part of the team. The chairman’s award in particular, allows a team to automatically advance in competition by winning it.
This week has been a busy one! Things are really ramping up as our first competition creeps closer and closer. Our robot is nearing completion, but there is still a lot of work to do. Stay tuned for next week’s developments as our team races to finish the robot!