It’s almost Christmas and the LigerBots have been busy as ever!
As always, the team continues to train students in all aspects of robotics. The computer design, mechanical, electrical, and programming groups showed students, both rookies and veterans, how a robot goes from idea, to design, to construction, and to completion.
These groups got a major opportunity recently as we are now allowed to access our engineering room once a week. This has finally given us the chance to make modifications to our robot and use it for practice. Previously we were unable to do work on our robot or anything else in or shop.
The robot proved to still be fully functional and parts which had been removed at the end of competition season were re-added and any non-functional components were removed and replaced. There is also ongoing discussion about the possibility of either a major overhaul of the current robot or building an entirely new robot.
The marketing group has been working on contacting old sponsors and sending them a team photo and letter thanking them for their support. They have also been working on lawn signs for the team. Team members and coaches who wish to spread publicity and promote team spirit will get a sign to put in their front yard. They will help publicise our team in the difficult times of the pandemic.
We also recently spoke at an event by another robotics team, team 6731 Record Robotics. We previously worked with them on a scouting alliance with several other teams and it was a pleasure to work with them again.
We have several major projects in our near future, chief among them are the Game design challenge and innovation challenge. The former requires us to create an entire competition like the ones FIRST creates every year for us to play. We must create the field, game pieces, scoring system, and design requirements for robots. The other challenge requires us to find a real world issue and create a solution for it. Once we have our solution we will give a presentation on it. In both cases FIRST will decide the winner.
A lot will happen after winter break. We sincerely hope you have a happy holiday!
Thanksgiving For The LigerBots
December 6, 2020
It has been an exciting few weeks on the LigerBots filled with new events aimed at training rookies while adapting for FRC in the COVID-19 world.
Firstly, over the course of three meetings the LigerBots held a mock kickoff event! In a normal year, we would have traveled to New Hampshire on the first Saturday of January to see the reveal of the new game that we need to design our robots to play, and attend competitions for. Then, we would have spent the next few days analyzing the game, and brainstorming robot designs.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and the uncertainty surrounding whether or not competitions will be able to be held in the future, there is no new game for our robots to play this year and it will be the same one as last year meaning we lose out on an authentic game reveal and engineering challenge. Despite this, there may be some modifications and changes made to last year’s game so hopefully the LigerBots will have new challenges to explore!
While the real FRC kickoff event was cancelled this year, it is essential that our rookies learn how to comprehend games, design robots, and understand the engineering process which is why we held our own! The goal for this event was to authentically replicate the normal in person experience that a new member of the team would have during the first few days of our build season.
To achieve this, we recycled an old FRC game from 2016, so it would be entirely new and we would be able to start on a blank slate as usual. Next, we divided our rookies into groups which were led by two experienced older members of our team who have all had experience designing robots and then we got to work! Each group started by watching an animation of how the game that they would have to design a robot to play worked. This game centered around picking up balls, shooting them, getting through obstacles, and doing a robot “pull up.”
Next, each group came up with designs and mechanisms that would perform the tasks needed to play the game, and each group ended with multiple ideas of what a potential robot could be and how it could work! In the end, each of our rookies got to learn and see how we begin to design and build a robot from the ground up, and most excitingly, they learned by doing it themselves.
The second big event that has come and gone on the LigerBots is our exciting elevator pitch training! On our team, we are big on outreach, and spreading the word of what we do as well as supporting STEM through different events and policy makers. To do this, each of our team members needs to be effective at communicating who we are, and what we do as a team in a short amount of time and in an interesting way.
To achieve this, we trained all of our new members in elevator pitches! An elevator pitch is when one gives a quick summary speech about something with the intent of getting the listener engaged and interested, like being in the elevator with someone important and having to communicate something to them before getting to the top floor which is where the name comes from,
In total, we spent two days training our rookies on how to be concise, effective, and well spoken communicators. To do this, we broke up our team into groups of new members paired with older experienced members who have given many elevator pitches in their time on the team. We began by giving a general presentation on what elevator pitches are, and how to do them, and then we split off into smaller groups for practice. In the end, the training event was a success, and each and every one of our rookies learned how to give good elevator pitch speeches which will without a doubt come in handy in the future, both on the team and off.
The third main event that the LigerBots undertook during these past two weeks was a CADathon, hosted by FRC team 254, The Cheezy Poofs. CAD stands for computer aided design, and is how all FRC teams design their robots.
During this event, small groups from many different FRC teams all competed to design the best mechanism to perform one task. Each team was given the same design challenge, and over the course of a weekend were to design and make a complete CAD model of the design, which would perfectly resemble what the design would look like if it were to be built in person. Then, each team’s design would be presented to judges, who would design a first, second, and third place team as well as give out special awards.
The challenge was to design a mechanism that would allow a robot to climb up a twelve foot poll which has columns of holes in it. To achieve this, our team designed a robot with an angled opening to easily align with the pole, and two rollers that were pressed against the tube powered by giant pistons. As the rollers pulled the robot up, two cup shaped pieces clamped onto the tube to prevent the robot from tipping. Our robot could theoretically reach the top of the pole in less than 6 seconds, but it suffered from subtle design flaws such as structural integrity and high current draw as it was designed in a short time frame.
Mechanically, it was a successful weekend with our robot as we were able to complete the challenge with a well thought out design. Most excitingly, the judge panel also selected our robot for the Most Aesthetic Award! Our design had a black and orange scheme representing our team colors, as well as precisely designed plates making our design stand out visually. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend for the LigerBots with a difficult design challenge, as well as an award.
Things are finally picking up pace! We hope you’ll be with us all the way!
Start of the new year!
November 21, 2020
Despite the pandemic, the LigerBots have been picking up steam!
The team has grown with many new rookies joining in the past two months. Several team members went to virtual club day events at Newton North and South High Schools to talk to potential rookies about our work.
We have also started our pre-season training, teaching rookies computer aided design and the principles of robot building. Once the school allows us to use the engineering room, we will begin modifying our robot with the concepts and improvements we have designed in quarantine.
The non-technical sides of the team have completed several grants for sponsors and are in the process of getting yard signs for our team to promote ourselves during the pandemic.
Our Awesome Mentorship Project (AMP), created in the spring to help students during quarantine, is well into its fall session, with 20 buddy pairs at recent count. We recently submitted a white paper about our work on AMP and its expansion into a summer camp (cAMP) to the FIRST community(link here). Parents and students all around gave enthusiastic feedback to us, and we were even featured in the Boston Globe! Thank you all for supporting us during these trying times.
We continue to be excited about the upcoming year. Stay tuned for more!
LigerBots’ Whitepaper on Distance Education
October 25, 2020
In the spring, the LigerBots created the Awesome Mentor Project (AMP), a free, virtual program where high school students could mentor elementary school students during quarantine. The program grew rapidly, and by the end of the spring session in June, we had 80 mentor-mentee pairs.
The success of AMP allowed us to expand the program into a free, Zoom-based summer program for elementary school students called Camp AMP. With 80 high school students volunteering to teach classes for 150 campers, it proved a major accomplishment for the team.
If you are interested in joining the LigerBots, please fill out the form at ligerbots.org/join. We will send you the information to attend our semi-weekly meetings on Zoom. The LigerBots has opportunities for Newton high school students with all interests, including business, marketing, engineering and programming. We are “more than robots”.