Our Preseason So Far!
October 31, 2019

The LigerBots hit the ground running at the beginning of the school year as we prepare for the competition season, which starts in January. Our team members have been attending many outreach events, teaching skills to rookies, and preparing for the FLL competition we host in November and December.  

 

On September 22nd, we attended the Newtonville Village Day. LigerBots set up a booth along Walnut St, and we had our “Slime as a Scientific Experiment” activity, mini robots made out of toothbrush heads, and our 2016 robot. The kids really enjoyed making a mess with the slime and learning about the properties of glue! 

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We also attended Beantown Blitz, an offseason competition hosted by Revere High School in Revere, Massachusetts, on October 19th. The event was perfect for rookies to gain experience driving the robot and experience a live competition. 

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For instance, in advance of the competition, we held a scouting competition where the rookies scouted some matches to see who was the most accurate at capturing robot performance. “Scouting” is when members of the team record the scores of each team that is playing in order to collect data on teams. The top 5 winners of the competition got cream puffs and it was great training for Beantown Blitz!  

 

On Sunday, October 20th, a group of students, our robot, and our tent went to the Green Expo that was held inside the Newton Centre Harvest Fair. We encouraged kids to drive our robot and catch the ball it threw. We also had a hands-on activity of making a solar oven out of cardboard boxes, tinfoil, and plastic wrap, in which the kids could make s’mores! It was a great example of the intersection of sustainability, technology, and hands-on engineering. 

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We also held our annual Parents’ Night in October. The parents got to learn all about our team and how they could help. 

The FTC team from the East Boston Excel Charter school came to our meeting in order to learn more about coding and software. Our coding lead was able to help them out! Last year, we helped them fundraise by supporting a Student Artists for Science event. 

 

We have also been busy maximizing our robotics skills and teaching rookies. The electrical team, for example, has been hard at work preparing training documents to help rookies learn information quickly. They have also been working on their pneumatics test bench to test pneumatic pistons. 

The strategy council is working on teaching and explaining scouting to the rookies. Scouting is filling out a chart of all the actions a robot did during a match. This data is then converted to a spreadsheet for data analysis. The council had the rookies practice scouting at Beantown Blitz. 

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This Saturday, we will be at the Think Big Expo at the Newton Free Library.  Think Big is an event where middle and high schoolers talk with STEM experts. We are excited to be there and promote STEM careers in our community. Hope to see you all there! 


LigerBots is back for another year!
September 22, 2019

Over the summer, between breaks, our team members had the chance to represent LigerBots in several events across the local community and outside it.

On July 4th, Ligerbots took their 2016 robot all the way to Providence, Rhode Island, to participate in the Providence Waterfire event, which included some Independence Day celebrations. The team members encountered other FIRST teams from around New England and demoed their robot. Kids of all ages came to the LigerBots booth to interact with team members and even man the robot itself! 

The 2016 robot presented at the Rhode Island Waterfire event.
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Kids interact with the 2016 LigerBots robot at the Waterfire event in July.

On July 13th, LigerBots volunteered locally at the Newton Free Library’s STEAM expo. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics, and hosted many other organizations like the Society of Women Engineers. Participants were able to interact with the LigerBots booth—making STEM-related arts and crafts such as binary necklaces and bracelets—and even got to watch LigerBots team members demo the robot.

With summer ending, school starting, and the season approaching, the LigerBots had their first meeting on September 4th at Newton South. We have spoken to several subteam-leaders about their plans for the upcoming weeks, rookie training, and what they hope to cover in the preseason. 

Asa, the director of technology and training, is in charge of the technical side of the team. Through the training period, team members interested in the mechanical parts of the robots will be talking about CAD (computer-aided design), as well as learning in depth about robot elements, such as robot mechanisms and driving, which rookies will practice using last year’s robot. Through this hands-on training, rookies will also be able to learn about the systems incorporated into LigerBots’ 2019 robot. For the preseason project, the mechanical subteam will focus on the JPL open-source rover, a NASA-affiliated project in which participants can build a Mars rover in their own labs. The LigerBots are excited to start on this project!

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LigerBots CTO Asa preparing for the first meeting of the season.

Matthew and Charlotte, heads of strategy, worked with new members to dive into the core of the game rules and scouting strategy. Rookies were shown animations of 2018-2019 matches and the different robots that participated in them. The strategy subteam works to “improve the team’s chance of winning [even] beyond the drive team” by using data analysis to evaluate different teams’ weaknesses and strengths. They scout after other teams’ robots for the best alliance potentials and come up with the best strategy to win each match. As strategy takes a bigger approach, other subteams focus more on the fine details. 

Samy, our executive advisor and former CTO, spoke about the processes that the electrical subteam is teaching rookies for the upcoming year. Beginning with wire diagrams and teaching what the symbols mean, the electrical team will be taught soldering basics – and how to achieve a “nice, good, flowy, pretty” solder over a cold solder. Soldering is the fusing of wires using solder, which is a low-melting alloy, and it is a technique that rookies must master early on. They will also be taught about the control system—robot components and how they connect to each other electrically—using past robots as guides. The goal is to create communication between all motor controllers, and by the end of the training period, all electrical subteam members will be able to make a wire diagram using premade cutouts of the components on the robots as well as a good solder. In a few weeks, the electrical subteam will start working on pneumatics, and more exciting projects related to the preseason.

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Samy explaining electrical basics to rookies in one of the meeting’s info sessions.
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A LigerBots rookie trying his hand at soldering wires.

Last but not least, the marketing team, headed by Maggie, will be starting to focus on outreach, grants, and advocacy. Watch for upcoming events, such as FLL events and local happenings, which LigerBots team members will take part in. For our next upcoming event, make sure to catch the LigerBots booth at Newton Village Day on September 22nd, starting at 12:00 PM. Can’t wait to see you!

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LigerBots marketing subteam’s Maggie and Carolyn speaking at the meeting.

Finally, some announcements about team meetings. LigerBots meet every monday at Newton North High School from 6:30-9:00 PM in the engineering room. On Thursdays, LigerBots meet at Newton South High School’s woodshop, in room 9170. Feel free to drop by upcoming meetings and join the LigerBots team!


Today’s Meeting at Newton North
September 19, 2019

Because of Back to School Night at Newton South, today’s LigerBots meeting will be at North, in the Engineering Rooms (normal rooms).


LigerBots First Meeting
September 4, 2019

The LigerBots 2019/20 season starts this Thursday Sept 5th with a meeting at Newton South High School, Room 9170 (the wood shop) at 6:30PM. Meetings will continue each week on Mondays at North (6:30PM in the Engineering Rm) and Thursdays at South. All interested students are encouraged to attend.


It’s the end of the year for the LigerBots!
June 25, 2019

Even though the competitive robotics season is long finished, the LigerBots have been as busy as ever.

Charlotte carries the robot’s ball during the Memorial Day Parade.

On the Wednesday before Memorial Day, a couple of LigerBots joined the Girl Scouts and veterans from the Vietnam War in flag-planting in the Newton ceremony. We placed American flags on the graves of those who served our country to honor their service.

That Sunday, May 27th, we proudly marched in the Memorial Day Parade with our robot and our banner, representing both our community and FIRST.

Coach Noa presents an award to a student at Awards Night.

On June 3rd, we hosted our annual Awards Night at Newton South from 6-9pm. The event originated as an opportunity to thank our sponsors but has evolved into a night to commemorate and honor not just sponsors, but also mentors, coaches, parents, and, most importantly, students. All of the students on the team received hand-written thank-you letters from execs. All of the mentors and coaches got a mention, and we also honored Diane Levy, our graphics coach who retired this year. We also thanked all of the parents for their support and acknowledged the seniors for all their work in the past four years. Overall, we had a wonderful, fun night.

Newton North hosted its annual Step-Up Day in which eighth-graders visit the high school. This year, for the first time, the school included a “Mini-Club Day,” so we set up our booth and talked to prospective team members, asking them about their interests and discussing STEM at Newton North.

Clara and Samy help kids make slime during Newton Highlands Village Day.

Newton Highlands Village Day was on June 9th. The street was full of happy kids clutching snow cones and happy parents visiting the many tents of local businesses. Along with a table with information about our team and FIRST, we also had a table with ingredients for slime, which we made with the kids to teach them scientific skills and information. Though we were stationed right next to the bouncy houses, we were able to talk to a lot of kids and get them excited about robotics and our FLL Info Night.

Later that week, the Newton North Science Team challenged us to a soccer game. Although we tragically lost, we had a really good time and made new friends.

The next day, we had our annual pool party at a Coach’s house. It’s a great way to have some fun with the team and celebrate the year’s accomplishments.

Carly (a mentor), Greer (a coach), AJ, Carolyn, Rep. Kay Khan, Maggie, and Samy line up for a photo in Rep. Khan’s office.

It was back to work on Monday the 17th. Maggie, AJ, Carolyn, and Samy visited our State Representative Kay Khan at the State House in Boston. We advocated for writing a bill that would set up a need-based grant program for competitive STEM teams. We have her support but there’s a lot of work still to be done.

Kids tell the PB &J “robot” Matthew how to make a sandwich, step by step.

That evening, we had our annual FLL Info Night. FLL, or FIRST Lego League, is the robotics league for students from 4th through 8th grade. Teams are typically much smaller than FRC (high-school) teams and are started by parents. We created the Info Night to guide parents through the process of starting and supporting an FLL team. While the parents watched a presentation done by AJ and a coach, we set up hands-on STEM activities for their children. The kids made spaghetti and marshmallow towers, calculated the best paper plane technique, and commanded a human PB& J robot to learn about the principles of coding. Overall, a very successful night!

Our final meeting of the school year was this Thursday, June 20th. We packed up our materials, made thank-yous for sponsors, planned for the summer, and had cake to celebrate the occasion!

Thanks to all the blog-readers for supporting our team this year. We’ll be back in the fall, but until then, have a nice summer!