Learning to succeed in the digital age with the Geek Squad at the B&G Club


 The Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster hosted the Geek Squad Academy at the club on Wednesday and Thursday, August 14 and 15, 2019. Geek Squad Academy is a no cost two day, hands-on technology program designed for youth ages 10-18. When attending, youth become “Junior Agents” and get hands-on experience with some of the newest and coolest technology, with instructors from Best Buy and Geek Squad. This two day camp experience allowed students to explore technology like: coding. programming, film production/photography, 3D-design, digital music and digital citizenship. Some student created some 30 second stop action movies with Lego’s during the academy. Helping the student work the camera is Anthony Rodriguez. From left listening to him is Semy Kim, 16, Alexiss Edmonds, 13, and Nicole Robinson, 15. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

By Daniel Monahan  | Sentinel & Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — In the digital age, becoming familiar with and understanding new technologies is important for people of all ages and students at the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster rolled up their sleeves Wednesday to start on their own technology journey.

The Geek Squad Academy, in a partnership with Best Buy, was hosted at the club with the goal of exposing students to different technologies and arts.

“Because most of the jobs for the future are not in existence now, it’s a great way for kids to start learning about all the different types of technology,” said club Executive Director Donata Martin.

Justen Bristlin, signature programs specialist with Best Buy, said this is the 13th year the academy has been hosted.

Bristlin said the program gives students the tools necessary to succeed in the 21st Century.

Instructor Steve O’Day helps Amelia Carboni , 10, make some digital music at the academy. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

“One of our goals is to bridge the digital divide,” said Bristlin. “The idea is to get kids involved with technology and to be content creators instead of consumers.”

To get students started off on the right foot, the event offered coding projects, stop-motion tutorials, and activities that combined music and technology.

Students who participated in a Star Wars themed coding activity said they were excited to be learning the skill because they might use it in the future.

“We’re doing small coding puzzles right now and it’s really fun,” said Fitchburg resident Conor Elliot.

Jalen Leider, who was coding a project involving famous robot R2D2, said he was potentially interested in coding and computers, but added that he’d have to learn eventually.

“Coding gives kids a basic idea of how logic works,” said instructor Kieth Porazzo. “Coding is the foundation of everything we use from our cellphones to browsing the web.”

Another instructor, Elena Valdez, added that “children are going to be our future and that our future is going to be technology.”

Students also participated in an activity where they made their own stop-motion videos.

Working the camera is Alexiss Edmonds, 13. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

Stop-motion is a type of film making that requires painstakingly moving puppets, or in this case Lego pieces, and snapping hundreds of photos until it makes a cohesive, short movie.

Alexis Edmonds, 13, said they had to plan out a scene using Legos and repeatedly move them centimeters at a time while taking photos of every move.

The skit was about two characters that were fighting over their girlfriend, she said.

“It’s fun because you can be creative with our story and we tried different things with the Legos,” said Edmonds.

Bristlin also said it’s important for parents to get children learning about technology whenever possible, adding that he thinks students learn more with hands on activities.

Martin said Geek Squad staff members will be volunteering at the club over the next year to hopefully add to students’ learning.

Subaru shifts funds to Boys & Girls Clubs of Lunenburg and Fitchburg-Leominster


Sentinel & Enterprise

 04/24/2019

LUNENBURG — Subaru of America, Inc. and North End Subaru presented a check for $26,233 to the Boys & Girls Club of Lunenburg and Fitchburg-Leominster as its hometown charity choice for the 2018 Subaru Share the Love Event.

The check was presented by Martin Babineau, dealer principal.

 Posing with the check being presented to the two local Boys & Girls Clubs are, back row, from left: Rocco Spagnuolo, Jesse Manning, Martin Babineau, Michelle Belleza, and Joe Aotavilla; second row from left: Brett Houck, Charlotte Ludy, MacKenzie Belleza, and Molly Belleza; front row, from left: Rochelle Jules, Jennie-Lynn Abdurraheem, Jayde Caraballo, and Suhaly Rosado. SUBMITTED PHOTO

From Nov. 15 to Jan. 2, customers who purchased or leased a new Subaru vehicle selected from a list of charities to receive a donation of $250 from SOA.

For the third year in a row, there was no cap on the total donation from Subaru of America to its Share the Love charitable partners.

At the culmination of this year, SOA and its retailers hope to exceed a grand total of $140 million donated nationally since the creation of the Share the Love Event to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the event.

Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_32593412/subaru-shifts-funds-boys-amp-girls-clubs-lunenburg#ixzz5mE8XQt6Q

Chalk art comes to life at Central MA Science Festival


By David Dore

Apr. 15, 2019

Several days’ worth of learning, drawing, coloring and shading led to the moment Saturday afternoon when the classroom-sized work of art was completed.

This creation, though, was not meant to last — although it will be remembered through photographs and in the minds of the students and artists who worked on it.

People who stopped by Saturday’s sixth annual Central MA Science Festival at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster could see the 3D chalk art piece take shape. Appearing to come out of a pond was a pair of green dragon-like creatures with pink fins, based on the two giant serpents from Greek and Roman mythology that killed the Trojan priest Laocoon and his two sons.

Working alongside the teenagers throughout the day were two world-renowned chalk artists, Kurt Wenner and Julie Kirk Purcell. Wenner is considered the innovator of 3D pavement chalk art, and is credited with bringing the art form to the United States. He and Kirk Purcell have traveled the globe creating 3D chalk pieces.

Wenner and Kirk Purcell spent a few days in Leominster with Denise Kowal, founder of the Sarasota Chalk Festival in Florida, passing on the history, tools and techniques of 3D chalk art to Boys & Girls Club members and students from Leominster High School and its Center for Technical Education Innovation, and the Sizer School and Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in Fitchburg.

According to Kowal, 3D pavement chalk art is a perfect fit for a place like the Boys & Girls Club, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. It incorporates math through understanding geometry and perspective, she said, and chemistry through knowing how the products that are used “mix together.”

Kowal said she likes the unique nature of making 3D pavement chalk art, for both the artists and the people who are seeing them create.

The artists, she explained, are “being very vulnerable. They’re allowing people to watch them as they are sitting here creating. The art form is a very interactive art form. I think they’re the most creative and the most giving artists in the world because they are willing to put themselves out there, and before they even know how their products are going to turn out, and it’s all ephemeral. At the end of the day it is chalk, and if it rains it goes away.”

Saturday’s project, originally supposed to be done outside, was moved indoors because of rain. And it’s something that Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Donata Martin has wanted to bring to the Central MA Science Festival for a couple of years. It took a couple of board members meeting with Kowal in Florida to make it happen.

Kowal and Wenner “wanted so very much to work with Boys & Girls Clubs,” Martin said, noting that Wenner is a Boys & Girls Club alum from California.

“When he was approached by Denise, who runs the Sarasota festival, to do this, he really wanted to do this to give back to the Boys & Girls Club,” Martin said. “Having him here, having Julie, and then Denise coming up, who organizes the two big events, it’s more than what we could possibly have imagined doing.”

The hope, Martin said, is to make 3D pavement chalk art a permanent part of the science festival.

For this year’s participants, Kowal said, “they’ve already had an experience that they will remember forever. That’s what our goal is, is to create the experience and a learning opportunity. And in the end, if they end up with a beautiful 3D pavement painting to show the world, then that’s just icing on the cake.”

This work of art really sticks out


By Daniel Monahan

04/14/2019

 

LEOMINSTER — The right combination of pastels, geometry, and perspective will produce a beautiful 3D illusion that makes the artwork appear to spill off of its canvas.

A group of Boys and Girls Club members, and local high school students, added the finishing touches to their 3D street painting at the 6th Annual Central MA Science Festival on Saturday.

Joined by world-renowned chalk artists Kurt Wenner, of Italy, and Julie Kirk-Purcell, of California, the students worked diligently on the piece to make a dragon look as though it was leaping off of the floor.

Wenner invented 3D pavement art in 1984, which is distinguished by images which appear to rise from, or fall into the ground. To accompany his art, he also created a new geometry that avoids a specific distortion that occurs in other forms of 3D art.

During the 2014 Sarasota Chalk Festival, Wenner and Kirk led a team of 30 artists to set a Guinness Book of World Record, creating the largest 3D pavement art piece. The piece, which depicted the now extinct megalodon shark, covered 22,747.6 square feet and took 10 days to complete.

Wenner was a member of a Boys and Girls Club when he was younger and joined the project in large part due to his passion for the organization. Kirk has been involved in street painting for 19 years, and an expert in 3D painting.

The project is part of a larger initiative to teach students seldom explored art forms and to encourage collaboration with their peers.

“Our first priority has been to teach them,” said Denise Kowal, who founded the Sarasota Chalk Festival which sponsored the chalk project. “We want to get them thinking, to get their brains working, and to start using tools that they have never been exposed to.”

To create a believable 3D illusion, students were exposed to elements of chemistry, science, math, and art, said Kowal.

“Our goal is to create a program where students can learn the art form correctly,” said Kowal.

The process began with learning about the history of art, she said. There was a lot of work with geometry and an emphasis on learning the techniques of the different materials.

“This is an education program in which we’re teaching perspective, the use of pastels, collaboration, working large, and drawing,” said Wenner. “I enjoy it, and I think it’s going as planned so far.”

With the knowledge of the art form bestowed upon them, the students successfully brought to life an intricate image that utilized color, creativity, and geometry.

“The kids are doing great,” said Kowel. “It’s a really fun experience to see them all come together, but we feel kind of sad that it’s going to end today.”

Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_32574450/this-work-art-really-sticks-out#ixzz5lH1QAZYY

Boys & Girls Club awarded National Science Foundation grant


Posted Mar 18, 2019

 

The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, with clubhouses in Leominster and Gardner, received the news that its application to the National Science Foundation will receive grant funding to pilot and enhance its Career Launch program.

The enhanced career and workforce development program will be STEM CareerLaunch.

Increased exposure to STEM content and career pathways during out-of-school time contexts can significantly extend STEM learning and aspirational interests among middle and high school youth. Using a collective impact approach, the STEM CareerLaunch pilot project tests the feasibility of redesigning a widely used, national youth and career focused program for and by the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America to extend STEM learning and promote awareness, interest, and readiness for STEM-related occupations among youth.

STEM CareerLaunch integrates extant STEM programs, such as First Robotics, Girls Who Code and Jason Learning, with newly developed STEM content and opportunities to create and test a comprehensive STEM learning and career program for youth. The results of this pilot will inform a more expansive effort to bring STEM CareerLaunch to an already networked 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs, reaching more than 4 million youth from predominately underrepresented groups in STEM, and youth participating in other afterschool/summer program throughout the United States.

Approximately 100 youth and informal educators at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster will participate in this pilot feasibility study. A five-pronged approach will be instituted, including high quality out of school time STEM programming, connected STEM career education, mentorship, professional development for the informal educators, and incentives such as internships and field experiences for youth participants. The developmental evaluation will focus on program implementation, participant outcomes, and scale-up. Data collection methods will include quantitative and qualitative approaches such as baseline student data, project tracking logs, retrospective surveys, focus groups, staff interviews, and observations. A summative evaluation will also be conducted.

This endeavor is led by a collaborative partnership between the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s STEM Center, Becker College, The Central Mass STEM Network, the Fitchburg and Leominster Public School Districts, the North Central Massachusetts and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce, MIT, Harvard University, UMass HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, and others.

STEM Career Launch is primarily funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. It is also co-funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers program which is committed to better understanding and promoting practices that increase students’ motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM).

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Boys & Girls Club to host world-famous chalk artists


On Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster will hold its Sixth Annual Central MA Science Festival at the clubhouse, 365 Lindell Ave., Leominster.

This year’s festival will feature a 3D street painting illusion that will make the pavement appear to dip inward and objects project outward. Attendees will be allowed to step onto the 3D illusion for photo opportunities or try their own pavement chalk art skills, using supplied chalk.

“Megalodon Shark” in Venice, Florida, a Guinness World Record designed by Kurt Wenner, and created by Julie Kirk-Purcell with a team of 30 volunteers.

The unique chalk project will be led by internationally renowned innovator of the 3D pavement art form, Kurt Wenner of Italy, and 3D pavement artist Julie Kirk-Purcell of California. During their visit here, the celebrated artists will create the 3D art piece with a group of Boys and Girls Club members, and local high school students. The piece will be completed at the Saturday Science Festival, which is free and open to the public.

Before the Saturday Science Festival, on Thursday, April 11 at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse, the visiting artists will give a free, in-person presentation about their work.

Wenner and Kirk-Purcell have created 3D chalk art across the globe. During the 2014 Sarasota Chalk Festival in Venice, Florida, they led a team of 30 artists to set a Guinness World Record, creating the largest anamorphic pavement art piece. The now-extinct Megalodon Shark covered 22,747.6 square feet and took 10 days to complete.

The Sixth Annual Central MA Science Festival is produced in collaboration with local organizations and companies, and provides a hands-on, multifaceted exploration of STEAM that makes science accessible, interactive and fun for people of all ages. The festival includes more than 20 STEAM-related activities, demonstrations, and exhibits. Workshops entail Lego robotics, veterinary and health science, astronomy, and more. The addition of 3D chalk art provides a uniquely creative approach to using geometry, mathematics, visual perception, and the tools of perspective and illusion in art.

The Chalk Art events are made possible by a partnership with Denise Kowal, founder of the Sarasota Chalk Festival, and by corporate sponsorships from Enterprise Bank, Girouard Tool Corp., Heat Trace Products, IC Federal Credit Union, Mount Wachusett Community College, Polar Beverages, Select Engineering, Inc., and Wachusett Mountain, and generous patrons Ronald Leger Jr. CPA, Dan Asquino and Rick Hoeske.

Boys & Girls Club awarded National Science Foundation grant


The Telegram

March 18th, 2019

 

The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, with clubhouses in Leominster and Gardner, received the news that its application to the National Science Foundation will receive grant funding to pilot and enhance its Career Launch program.

The enhanced career and workforce development program will be STEM CareerLaunch.

Increased exposure to STEM content and career pathways during out-of-school time contexts can significantly extend STEM learning and aspirational interests among middle and high school youth. Using a collective impact approach, the STEM CareerLaunch pilot project tests the feasibility of redesigning a widely used, national youth and career focused program for and by the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America to extend STEM learning and promote awareness, interest, and readiness for STEM-related occupations among youth.

STEM CareerLaunch integrates extant STEM programs, such as First Robotics, Girls Who Code and Jason Learning, with newly developed STEM content and opportunities to create and test a comprehensive STEM learning and career program for youth. The results of this pilot will inform a more expansive effort to bring STEM CareerLaunch to an already networked 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs, reaching more than 4 million youth from predominately underrepresented groups in STEM, and youth participating in other afterschool/summer program throughout the United States.

Approximately 100 youth and informal educators at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster will participate in this pilot feasibility study. A five-pronged approach will be instituted, including high quality out of school time STEM programming, connected STEM career education, mentorship, professional development for the informal educators, and incentives such as internships and field experiences for youth participants. The developmental evaluation will focus on program implementation, participant outcomes, and scale-up. Data collection methods will include quantitative and qualitative approaches such as baseline student data, project tracking logs, retrospective surveys, focus groups, staff interviews, and observations. A summative evaluation will also be conducted.

This endeavor is led by a collaborative partnership between the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America,

Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s STEM

Center, Becker College, The Central Mass STEM Network, the Fitchburg and Leominster Public School Districts, the North Central Massachusetts and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce, MIT, Harvard University, UMass HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, and others.

STEM Career Launch is primarily funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. It is also co-funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers program which is committed to better understanding and promoting practices that increase students’ motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM).

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Boys & Girls Club gets $297G grant for Career Launch


The Girls Who Code class, which is offered by the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, will be an important component of the pilot project,

The Girls Who Code class, which is offered by the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, will be an important component of the pilot project, funded by the National Science Foundation, to enhance the club’s Career Launch program. In this file photo from January, instructor Josie Rivera (top) helps Amelia Carboni, 9, (left) and Calista Hallet, 10, work on a coding project. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/FILE PHOTO

LEOMINSTER — With a goal of preparing students to make better-informed decisions about their possible career paths, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has been awarded a substantial grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Using this grant, we are actually helping make an impact on the lives of children and the workforce of tomorrow,” said Donata Martin, the club’s executive director.

The two-year pilot project, which will be funded by a NSF grant of $297,000, will enhance the club’s Career Launch program and has several areas of focus that will increase students’ exposure to STEM/STEAM content and learning like First Robotics, Girls Who Code and Jason Learning, which is a science curriculum.

Career Launch prepares teens for the world of careers and work by allowing them to explore possible vocations, making sound educational decisions and finding success in the world of work.

The pilot project will test the feasibility of, using a five-prong approach, providing students high quality out-of-school of STEM/STEAM programming, connect STEM/STEAM to career education, provide mentorships, provide professional development for club educators, and provide incentives for internships and field experience for club members.

“This (grant) will bring all these pieces together for the Career Launch program

For Martin, while not downplaying the significant areas of focus, the grant will allow, for the first time, a chance for the club to generate concrete data on the outcomes of students who participate in the program.

“That was a piece we didn’t have,” said Martin adding that when applying for foundation grants, many want to see what kind of progress has been made in the past for other grant-funded projects.

“They always want to see that data,” she said referring to other foundations.

As for the areas of focus being studied during pilot project, she said the professional development was important.

This, she said, will allow the staff to better teach students.

The grant funding will also help the club pay for students’ internships at companies where they can learn more about potential careers.

On a personal note, Martin said she always wanted to secure a NSF grant, which she started on in 2016.

“It’s the next step for us…and opens so many doors for us,” she said.

The pilot project will be led by a collaborative partnership between the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America (which was instrumental said Martin in this successful application), Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute STEM Center, Becker College, The Central Mass STEM Network, the Fitchburg and Leominster Public School Districts, the Central Mass and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce, MIT, Harvard, the UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, and others.

In the letter from the NSF announcing the successful grant application, the organization wrote: “This award reflect’s NSF’s statutory mission and has been worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.”

 

By Cliff Clark

3/12/19

Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_32507312/boys-amp-girls-club-gets-297g-grant-career#ixzz5i4jfVzLa

At Boys & Girls Club, seniors teach pickleball to a new generation


By Mina Corpuz,

 03/11/2019
Volunteer Richard Meehan teaches students how to serve in the sport of pickleball on Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Volunteer Richard Meehan teaches students how to serve in the sport of pickleball on Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

LEOMINSTER — Ginni Bilodeau has been playing pickleball for nearly two years and got her first opportunity to share the sport with a group she hasn’t played with before: children.

Bilodeau was one of six senior volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club Wednesday afternoon who helped more than 20 Fitchburg and Leominster students with basics, game play, and scoring.

“We all do it for the same reason,” the Leominster resident said. “We want to teach the next generation about the sport.”

At the beginning of the hour-long gym time, the students wielded paddles and hit green and orange Wiffle balls off the ceiling, out of bounds on the court, and into the net.

Marie Sullivan, another volunteer, gave them tips on how to serve and where to hit the ball to score a point.

Volunteer Linda McDonald helps Kaiden Drinkwater, 11, from Leominster, with his serve. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

Volunteer Linda McDonald helps Kaiden Drinkwater, 11, from Leominster, with his serve. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

“It’s about control,” Sullivan, who lives in Lancaster, told the students. “It’s putting the ball where the other person isn’t.”

For most of the children, it was their first time playing pickleball. By the end of the hour, some students were able to serve the ball over the net or return a serve.

Sullivan was part of the group that approached the club about using its gym for pickleball and teaching students how to play.

“It brings me back and it’s gratification when you’re doing something productive,” she said.

Since the program started in November, there have been about 800 players, or an average about 20 students each afternoon, said Ron Leger, a Leominster resident who is one of the pickleball coordinators for the Boys & Girls Club.

On top of playing pickleball several times each week, Leger enjoys coming to the club on Wednesday afternoons to work with the children.

“Any time you can volunteer, especially with a group of kids, it makes life much more energizing,” Leger said.

When the students play matches against each other, they often play doubles and rotate teams in if to make sure all the children get an opportunity to play. To help, there are two bins labeled “Winner” and “WannaBees” that house the paddles of which team will be up next.

Volunteer Helen Bradford gives instruction as Hasel Mutindawa, 12, of Leominster, serves the ball during Wednesday’s pickleball tutorial at the Boys

Volunteer Helen Bradford gives instruction as Hasel Mutindawa, 12, of Leominster, serves the ball during Wednesday’s pickleball tutorial at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

Leger explained that there are no losers at Boys & Girls Club pickleball, only those who “wanna be” better players.

Leger was excited about T-shirts made for the students and volunteers that feature the club’s logo on the front and a pickle holding a paddle near a net on the back.

They were designed by graphic communications students at Monty Tech and screen printed at the school, he said.

Volunteer Ginni Bilodeau helps Tyler Strong, 11, of Leominster, learn the rules of the game.

Volunteer Ginni Bilodeau helps Tyler Strong, 11, of Leominster, learn the rules of the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_32505034/at-boys-amp-girls-club-seniors-teach-pickleball#ixzz5ht3NXQfA

Fitchburg-Leominster Terrorbots in final tune-up for competition


By Stephen Landry

 02/21/2019
The kids in the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s robotics club, dubbed the"Terrorbots," were working hard on their new

 

The kids in the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s robotics club, dubbed the”Terrorbots,” were working hard on their new robot Tuesday, trying to finish it for their upcoming competition. Member Vincent Soubbotin, a sophomore at the Center For Technical Education Innovation in Leominster, works on turning a pulley on the lathe they have. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE photos /JOHN LOVE

LEOMINSTER — It was crunch time on Tuesday for Team Terrorbots 3623, a group of local students and members of the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster who are preparing to take part in the First Robotics Competition next month.

Tuesday marked the end of the team’s six-week build period, and was the last chance members had to put any finishing touches on their robot before the competition.

“Teams are forced on a pretty tight deadline to get these robots built to do something that you don’t always necessarily know how to do immediately,” said program coordinator Jacob Janssens, who has been taking part in the robotics competition for 11 years.

Robotics Program coordinator Jacob Janssens show off the the gripper or extension arm that they still had to put on the robot and explains how it works and

Robotics Program coordinator Jacob Janssens show off the the gripper or extension arm that they still had to put on the robot and explains how it works and how it will grab this disc. Helping him at left is Jalen Leider, 15, a sophomore at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in Fitchburg.

“Picking up a ball seems pretty easy for us humans, but you’ve got to make it so the robot can do it without you doing anything other than pressing a button.”The theme for this year’s contest was “Deep Space,” and teams were tasked with designing a robot that could pick up a hatch, carry it several feet and place it over an open hole, thus “sealing” the hatch. Another option included programming the robot to pick up an orange kickball as “cargo” and placing it inside the hatch. Ambitious teams could opt to design a machine that could do both tasks, but Janssens said his team decided to just to the first one, in the hopes that other teams would spread themselves too thin by taking on too much.

Team of 12

“There have definitely been more difficult years, but there have also been significantly easier years,” Janssens said.

The team of 12 students will be competing against other New England teams next month in two separate competitions in Shrewsbury and Bedford, N.H. If successful, they will move on to District Championship in Worcester, and then the World Championship in Detroit, where they would compete against about 400 teams from across the globe.

Team Captain Eric Jenny said he is hopeful about his team’s chances, but remains aware they were facing some stiff competition.

“It feels kind of iffy this year,” Jenny said. “Two years ago, we felt pretty solid. Last year, we were kind of up in the air, but this year is a weird feeling because we don’t know if we’re bad or if we’re good.”

Still, Jenny said he’s confident his team did a good job at analyzing this year’s task and developing a workable strategy to conquer it, especially by focusing on a single challenge as opposed to both.

Team member Eric Jenny, a senior at Center For Technical Education Innovation in Leominster, checks some details on a computer for the project.

Team member Eric Jenny, a senior at Center For Technical Education Innovation in Leominster, checks some details on a computer for the project.

“I think what happens when there’s two (tasks), teams want to do everything and wind up trying to do too much,” Jenny said. “But since we’re just trying to do the hatch panel, I think we’re in a pretty good spot.”

The rules of the competition require that teams spend no more than $5,500 on their robots, with no single piece of equipment costing more than $500. Team Terrorbots 3623’s robot — which remained unnamed on Tuesday — came in way under budget with a price tag of around $1,000. Funds for the machine andother costs, including entry fees, came from a number of sponsors, including Boston Scientific and the Department of Defense’s STEM program.

 

Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_32466665/fitchburg-leominster-terrorbots-final-tune-up-competition#ixzz5gCLvbHoW

Girls Who Code program gives kids the skills to succeed


By Mina Corpuz

 01/07/2019 

 

Instructor Josie Rivera helps Amelia Carboni, 9, during Saturday’s Girls Who Code session at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. The program is part of a nationwide effort to teach girls computer science skills and help close the gender gap for jobs in the tech industry.

 

LEOMINSTER — Amelia Carboni wanted to learn about coding through her interest in computer games.

“When I’m older, I can make games I’m proud of or code to make them,” said the 9-year-old said as she played one as a bird that collected supplies to grow in size.

She is one of six girls who came to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Saturday to learn about the basics of computer science through Girls Who Code. The free program runs on weekends until the end of the school year and is meant for girls age 8 and older who are interested in a career in technology, web design, or coding. Some have been coming for a few weeks, while others started coming years ago.

The lesson of the day was using line code to draw snowmen.

Katerina Soubbotin, 9, front, and Daniella Serra, 12, work on a project during Saturday’s class.

Students made shapes like circles, set the dimensions for them, and colored in their figures. Instructor Josie Rivera has been teaching for the Girls Who Code program at the Boys & Girls Club for two years. On weekends and during the week, Rivera helps students learn how to work with different types of code and use programming languages like Python or Java. They also work on web design, graphic arts, and comic design. “I think it’s great that they’re learning something different,” she said. “Computer science is growing and it’s going to be important.” Rivera also helps the girls work on projects, like remakes of classic games such as “Pac-Man” and “Frogger,” or websites.

Before the day’s lesson, Tisiphone Hallet, 13, worked on a website that will accompany a YouTube channel she plans to launch to share her art. She has spent about three months designing it and deciding what kind of components go on it.

“I’ve always been interested in computers and wanted to learn more,” Hallet said. Hallet also likes that her work through Girls Who Code combines her interests of computers and art. Graphic art is one of the types of art she likes to make.

Tisiphone Hallet, 13, chats with instructor Jennifer Belfield during Saturday’s Girls Who Code class at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Belfield, a senior at Fitchburg State University who is majoring in game design, is an instructor for the program through an internship.

Jennifer Belfield, a senior at Fitchburg State University studying game design and computer science, is an instructor for the program through an internship. “I remember when I was young I didn’t get the experience of coding,” she said. “Had I earlier, I would have been excited. … I don’t want them to miss out on an exciting opportunity.”

The lessons offered through Girls Who Code are part of a nationwide effort to build a pipeline of female engineers and close the gender gap in computer science by 2027.

Girls Who Code has clubs at schools, summer courses, and programs around the country.

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