image001The LigerBots, Newton’s FIRST robotics team, went into the New England District event at WPI with big hopes and came out pumped and excited. The big news here is that the LigerBots are one of four teams that won a Chairman’s Award. This is huge in the FIRST Robotics world and qualifies them to compete for the top prize at the World Championship in St. Louis.

The team also finished the year ranked #10 in all of New England out of 175 registered teams.

Part of the work the team does is helping encourage STEM education in elementary schools. Take a look at the video they produced and you can get a sense of that. In other words, the LigerBots aren’t just a team from the high schools, they’re also a resource. My 10-year-old daughter has attended every competition and loves it, the teens on the team (not just her older brother) spend time with her, talking with her about the robot and discussing the competition.

As a parent sitting in the stands, watching this team is something magical. The stadium pulses, the kids get excited, they all know their jobs. But some of the best moments come out of nowhere and capture everything in a single instant.

During a quarterfinal round a robot on the LigerBot’s team fell over. This happens every so often, it’s unfortunate and costs the alliance points. But then the LigerBots did something that hadn’t yet been seen at that competition: their robot lifted up the other. In a video of that moment¬†you can see the audience erupt. It exemplifies everything that makes FIRST amazing. Yes, this is a competition and kids want to win, but everyone is working toward the same goal. Rivals become teammates and everyone remains graciously professional.

It happens that the team the LigerBots picked up will be competing against them in St. Louis, as they were another of the four who won a Chairman’s Award.

So what now? Getting to the World Championship event is expensive and requires fundraising. Please take a moment to donate, as these kids are really the future of STEM here in Newton.


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