Great new Physics Discovery

Today they announced at MIT that they discovered Gravitational Waves.  This is exciting news that I have been waiting for since college.  I remember as an undergrad doing textbook calculations in my General Relativity class of how strong the waves would need to be to be detected.

Robotics Update Feb 11

Dear friends,

Crowdfunding: We are beginning our now annual fund raising campaign to help fund our robotics program.  This year we are using the Boston University Crowdfunding site.  I will be sending out a sample letter that you can send to friends asking them to contribute to the team.  If all members of the team (students and mentors) can send out a request to 24.6 friends over the next couple of days, this will kick us off!

Public Unveiling: Our robot is driving around and we are now working on the shooter.  The public unveiling of our robot will be on Thursday, February 25th at 4PM in the Sargent Gym.  I hope you can attend this celebration.

Permission Slips: A reminder, if you have not sent in a signed permission slip and a travel form, please download them and get them to me ASAP.  I need signed permission slips from both mentors and students if you plan to attend any of the events with us.

Hotel for Hartford: I have now made hotel reservations for the students and mentors in Hartford based on the assumption that we will qualify for the New England Championship.  Any parents who plan to travel with the team should make their own hotel reservations.   We will be staying at the Radisson Hotel in Hartford.  If you are booking a room, you can try using the Promotional Code  “USFIRS”

Practice Field: Thanks to the help of many mentors and parents, we have constructed a practice playing field in the Sargent Gym.  Several visiting teams from the Boston area will be using the field for practice.  We will also be sharing our lab and/or the field for extended periods of time with the teams from Josiah Quincy High School and Cambridge Ringe and Latin.

Coach’s update Feb 3

Dear Team and Friends:

Travel Forms: I have added some new forms that students AND mentors need to fill out for travel to the competitions. There is a travel form for April (in addition to the form for March). There is also an actual permission slip which needs a signature on it. Click here to download.

Please return these additional forms to me by Tuesday, Feb 9th. This is important as I need to make hotel reservations for the New England championship in Hartford. The travel expenses will be somewhere between $150 and $200 for the students for the three night stay.

Practice Field: Many thanks to everyone who helped up build the FRC Practice field this past weekend. A big shout out to our mentors, Joe V., Abdullhah, Yash, Sameer, Randy, Anand, Kostya, Barbi, Sam, Emily, and Jordan. And a super thanks to Aleks for leading our field construction effort. We plan to finish up the field this coming Saturday in the same location. 10AM at EPIC.   We are building a public field that we hope many local teams will stop on by to use. This is part of our outreach effort to the community as is supported by the BU College of Engineering, the Argosy Foundation and the AT&T Aspire Foundation.

The robot is going great. We have a video on YouTube of the chassis driving over our playing field parts. This Friday at lunchtime (11AM) and after school (3PM) we will have Driver Tryouts with the chassis.

Fundraising: This Friday at noon our Crowdfunding effort goes live. I will be asking all team members to start out by emailing at least 24.6 people to ask for their support of our robotics team!

Parent Meeting: The next parent meeting will be Tuesday, February 9th in my classroom at 8AM.

Robot Coach’s Blog Jan 18

It has been an exciting week with team Overlocked.  We ran a very successful VEX tournament last weekend and had a good crowd for our FRC kickoff.  You can view many photos on our Facebook page.

The team is actively working on our new robot, codenamed, Hungry, Hungry, Hippo.

A few notes:

Crowdfunding: This week we are kicking off our Crowdfunding campaign.  We will ask each member of the team to send out dozens of emails to friends and family.

Official FIRST Permission Slips: Students need to sign up to with an online account to participate. Students and parents can click here to sign up their child in STIMS.

FRC Events – District Events - BUA Travel permission slips

Please fill out this second permission slip so I know which students are traveling to the events in March.  The deadline for this permission slip is going to be February 1st.  This will enable us to coordinate travel to these events.

District Events start on a Friday at 5PM. They run all day Saturday and Sunday. You can find information about the district events at In general, they are not overnight events. No classes should be missed because of these events. We are attending 3 events:

  • North Shore District March 11-13: Middle of the BUA Break
  • UMASS Dartmouth March 18-20: End of the BUA break.
  • BU District Event: April 1-3:

Build Season

  • Lab Open Hours: The lab will be open weekdays from 3PM to 6PM and weekends and holidays from 12 noon to 5PM - the lab phone number is 617-358-3854
  • The build season lasts for 6 weeks
  • The build season ends on Tuesday, Feb 23rd
  • Expectations and Commitment: The time commitment for robotics is similar to a varsity sport. If students can commit to only a couple hours a week, they can still go with the team to the district events. However, in order to be part of the overnight travel team, Freshmen and new members of the team are expected to commit to an AVERAGE of 5 to 10 hours a week.
  • Robotics Calendar Click here – we can share this Google calendar with you
  • Volunteers – Mentoring – Let me know if you want to help

Dec 1 Coaches Blog FLL HELP NEEDED AND ANNUAL Review

Dear Friends,

Annual Review: I wanted to share with you the highlights of the previous season.  Our Annual Review contains some of our favorite photos from the past season, a summary of our awards and season highlights, a list of all of our generous corporate sponsors, and our expenses for the season.  Many thanks to Helena Pham for taking the lead on putting this together.

LEGO Tournament: This coming Saturday is our annual FIRST LEGO League Tournament.  This is a major all hands on deck event where we really need all students to help out.  Parent help is especially appreciated and still needed for running our concessions stand.   Please click on this link to volunteer to bring in some food for the event.  Please e-mail me if you can help out.

We will be setting up for the event from 2PM to 6PM on Friday.  If we have enough hands on deck, we will go home earlier on Friday.  On Saturday, we will start our morning setup routine at 7AM and I hope to have the floor swept by 5PM.  Please arrange for your children to stay until the end.  The more hands on deck, the sooner we can all go home.  We will have 24 Elementary and Middle School teams attending this event!

Parent Meetings:  As we move into the big robotics build season I want to try and have one parent meeting a month to help discuss how parents can help and be involved with the season.  I would like to have the first meeting in my classroom at 8AM on Tuesday, Dec 8th.  Topics to discuss: Planning our Jan 9th kickoff and support during the build season, and travel to our events in March/April.

Open Labtime: We should have the lab open on Monday and Tuesday of next week to work on our FRC off-season project and VEX robots. Then it is time for final exams.

Coach’s Blog Nov 19

Veteran's Day Recap: Last week we held a great tournament for FIRST LEGO League, VEX, and VEXIQ.  You can check out all the photos on our Facebook page.  Many thanks to all of our volunteers!  We had 21 teams from 16 different schools in attendance.

FLL Outreach Workshop:This Sunday we will be holding a workshop for younger students on FIRST LEGO League teams.  We have 8 teams coming to visit us in the Physics Classroom where we will have two FLL fields set up.   We need 7 students to volunteer at this weekend's FLL Workshop form 2-5 pm on Sunday the 22nd.  Pizza will be provided for you  Please, sign up on this doodle so we know if you're free.

FRC Fabrication Training: On Friday the lab will be open for fabrication training.  So if you want to learn to use the drill press and the band saw stop by on Friday at 4PM as you are waiting for the Lock-In to start.

FLL Qualifier on Dec 5: Our next major tournament is the FIRST LEGO League tournament on Saturday Dec 5th.  Most BUA students should be here to help out with the Tournament.  We will have 24 FLL teams attending.

Open Lab Times:

  • Friday Nov 20: 3:30 to Lock-IN (Fabrication training and VEX work)
  • Saturday Nov 21: Lab closed because of Lock-In
  • Sunday Nov22 : Lab open 10AM until 1:30 when we will be doing setup for the FLL workshop.
  • Monday Nov 23: Lab Open 3-5PM
  • Tuesday: Lab Open 3-5PM

FRC Events: We are now also Registered for Dartmouth FRC District event which is March 18-20.

See all of our events on our calendar.



Robot Coach’s Blog

New Lab times: Going into the end of the semester the lab will now be open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  We have a lot of work to do, and showing up is key!

  • Tuesdays 3 pm - 5 pm
  • Fridays 3pm - at least 5 pm
  • Saturdays probably 10 am - 4 pm

Cleaning up the Lab.  This is really important.  On Friday and Sunday we will have visitors in the lab, so things have to be CLEAN.   This Friday T.I.S.P. will be doing some machine training in our lab between 2-5 PM.  This Sunday there will be an accreditation team coming through.

CAD Sessions: CAD session tonight (Tuesday) from 8 pm- 9 pm at the ECL lab.  Many thanks to Abdullah.

MASS PEP: I am still looking for a student to teach LEGO robotics on Saturday mornings.  This would be a paid position.  Please let me know if you are interested.

Boston Scientific: will again be sponsoring our team and has donated $3000 to Team Overclocked!  Many thanks!

Mathworks: Our new video camera and tripod arrived in the mail today.  Many thanks to Mathworks for sponsoring us!

Veteran's Day Robotics Tournament Prep: We have 9 FLL teams, 6 VEX teams, and 6 VEXIQ teams currently registered for the event.  Please let me know if you would like to volunteer for this event.  We could use about 10 more adults to make this event work well.

We will be setting up for the Veteran's Day tournament between 2PM and 8PM on Tuesday November 10th.  We will need a lot of help with this.  Please plan to stick around.

We open the doors at 7AM on Veteran's Day and I hope to have the floor swept by 6PM.



Oct 22 Coach’s Blog

Dear Friends:

MassPep: We will be continuing to support the Massachusetts Pre-engineering program as part of our outreach efforts.  Last year we have several students who taught a weekend class on 2-3 Saturday mornings a month to middle school students at Roxbury Community College.  There is funding to pay for a stipend for 1 students (or 2 students to split the stipend).  Let me know if you are interested.

Fall Festival:  This Friday, as part of the BUA Fall Festival we will do demos of Scorpion in the gym.  So if you want a chance to drive an FRC robot, between 4PM to 6PM in the gym.

Mentor Training:  This Friday from 3PM to 5PM we will have a CAD training and introduction to FRC with Emily and Dr. Joe. (ECL 125)

Safety Training:  October 30th  2PM - location TBD (either the Physics room or the bot lab).  The Safety training is one of those few very mandatory events.  This training will be run by the office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Open Lab times for week of Oct 26-30:  Tuesday and Friday from 3pM onwards.

Nov 11: Veteran's Day event: You may be getting an email from Gary or Leah asking you to help out with our Fall Tournaments.  We really do need all hands on deck to run these events.  They are a major outreach initiative for us, great publicity, and a source of revenue.

Crowdfunding:  Last year we dipped our toe into the waters of crowdfunding.  We are working with the BU Development office to launch a new Crowdfunding campaign this fall.  I am looking for several students to design our Crowdfunding site and video!  You can look at the BU Crowdfunding site to get an idea of what we want to create.

PTC Gold Sponsor: We received our first big corporate grant of the season from PTC for $2,500!  So many thanks to our first Gold Level Sponsor for the season.

BU ENG Sponsor: We are officially entered in the FIRST competition.  Many thanks again to the BU College of Engineering for paying our $5000 registration fee.  This has allowed us to compete in two district events.  We have now registered for the Boston University FRC District event on  April 1-3 and the North Shore FRC District event at Reading High School  on March 11-13.   The North Shore event is in the middle of the two week long BUA spring break.  Or at the tail end of the Boston University spring break.

Mathworks: Our second big corporate grant of the season comes from Mathworks and RECF (Robotics Education and Competition Foundation) for a new AV system to use at our tournaments.  Many thanks to Mathworks and RECF.

This past Monday  we had a great JAVA training workshop.  Many thanks to Paul for leading this.
On Tuedsay we talked about an FRC offseason project.

Students learn Java in FRC programming workshop


Oct 18th Physics Teachers Blog

This morning I had breakfast with several physics teachers from around New England.  We were getting together to plan for the 30th annual New England Physics Olympics.  I was joined by teachers from Wellesley High School, North Kingston High School, Thayer Academy and Apponequet High School.  I just finished updating the Olympics website with the list of events for this year.

We usually field 8 BUA students at this event, so if you are interested, let me know.  Maybe even field two teams this year.

While at breakfast, we were discussing lab reports.  I just finished grading the first batch of students lab reports.  Several of my fellow teachers also mentioned that for those of us teaching 9th grade physics, it is a huge learning curve for the students.  Most of them have never written a lab report before.  If they have done any science writing, they often are not used to the idea that the quality of their science writing should be on par with what they are doing for their history or English class.  In my case, I have just waded through 40 freshmen reports about Galieo's Law of Falling Bodies.   For most of my students, this is the beginning of a process of learning to write.

Oct 12 Robot Coach’s Blog

This week: The lab will be open on Friday.  I hope many of you will be there to work on the VEX robots.  If you are interested in working in our FRC Fall project, we will have a planning session. This will be the lead chance to see what the big BUILD season will be like and let your voice be heard with our fall project.

For the younger students on the team, if you have not filled out your robotics interests poll, please do so at the following link.

Java Class: On Monday the 19th (no BUA classes) from 10-2:30 in the physics classroom, the coding team will be holding a class on the basics of Java and object-oriented programming. It is open for all to attend, but is geared towards students who want to help code the FIRST robot. If possible, please bring a laptop with eclipse installed. No prior coding experience is required. Please fill out this doodle if you are interested.  We will offer a pizza lunch.

Open Lab Time: The lab will be open on Tuesday October 20th for VEX work.

Fall Festival: On Friday Oct 23rd the lab will not be open.  We will be doing demonstrations of Scorpion in the Sargent gym from 4PM to 6PM.   You will also an opportunity to drive Scorpion around, so you can try your hands at the chassis joysticks (not the arm).

Veteran’s Day is coming along with our November Robotics Tournament.  We need volunteers for this event.  Either Leah Magid or I will be reaching out to many of you in the coming days to solicit your help!  We are hosting three events that day.  A VEX VRC (VEX Robotics Competition) event will be running all day.  A few of our Academy students will be competing in this event.   We will also be hosting a VEXIQ (elementary/middle school kids) event in the morning.  We will be hosting a FIRST LEGO League scrimmage in the afternoon.  Some of our students will be competing in this event.  The rest will be supporting the event as judges, refs, field techs and pit management.

Material Donations needed: The lab needs several items.  If you would like to donate one of these items to the team, it would be appreciated.

  • Laptop: For programming
  • Desktop: For CAD
  • Rolling Toolchest: The one we have is falling apart.
  • Small filing cabinet with a working lock.

Official FRC Tournaments:  We have now registered for the Boston University FRC District event on  April 1-3 and the North Shore FRC District event at Reading High School  on March 11-13.   The North Shore event is in the middle of the two week long BUA spring break.  Or at the tail end of the Boston University spring break.