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Planet Robotics STEM Newsletter Issue 6: April 6th, 2021

Planet Robotics STEM Newsletter Issue 6: April 6th, 2021

We are excited to share with you activities for this fortnight. National Robotics week is being celebrated from April 3rd-11th. Cambridge Science festival is happening in the month of April.

Summer Programs in Quantum Computing

Qubit by Qubit is offering several summer programs in quantum computing, with live instruction taught by MIT researchers and PhDs. Full scholarships are available for students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds who have financial need.

Free previews in the form of workshops will be offered this month. Register at these links for:

National Robotics Week

It’s National Robot Week April 3-11, a time to inspire students in robotics and STEM-related fields, and share the excitement of robotics across all ages. Check out these activities.

Cambridge Science Festival 

For the 2021 Festival, recognizing social distancing will be in place as we begin to emerge from the pandemic,  we will celebrate STEAM in our community with an overarching theme of gratitude and appreciation. During the month of April 2021, we will showcase creative digital and virtual entries from our rich STEAM community, and celebrate with public displays of appreciation and gratitude. 

Here is the list of live events.

Please check Behind the scenes testing of Covid vaccines at Broad Lab

TechGirlz Free, Online Workshops for Girls in Grades 5-8

TechGirlz, a nonprofit program of CompTIA, is hosting free, online workshops running in two-hour sessions throughout April for girls in Grades 5-8.

CodeWizardsHQ Python Coding Challenge

CodeWizardsHQ is hosting a free global kids coding challenge, Deep Space Crystal Chase. Kids ages 8-18 can play and learn practical coding skills. They’ll put those skills to the test for a chance to win cash and prizes. As Nym of the Allsnacks Alliance, students will travel from planet to planet to answer 21 levels of coding challenges using Python code. If they succeed, they qualify to compete in the Boss Level for a chance to win a $100 grand prize. Join the global kids’ coding challenge from April 5 – May 7, 2021. Beginner-friendly! Get details and register

Lincoln Labs Science on Saturdays Destination: Space Exploration

Lincoln Laboratory is presenting Science on Saturday! This saturday(April 10th), they are hosting a webinar about space! They are going to be talking about space missions that have launched recently and investigating. You are going to get a behind the scenes look at how they design and test robotic and crewed missions to explore every planet in our solar system. Some other things they will talk about and discuss are: SpaceX, current payloads being created at Lincoln Labs and how they build items for the void of space. Best of all, all of this is going to be live, so you can ask any question and they can answer it! Here is the link to the page. The webinar will be hosted on zoom and there is no need to register and use the passcode: 133750.

Science On State Street

Science on State Street, a popular Massachusetts science festival, will be virtual this year, and the theme is Planet Earth Edition! Check out the list of creative events for kids and families. The festival runs from April 12-24, and registration is required for most events.

Movie Nights with the MIT museum 

On Friday April 23, attendees will have a chance to watch the Martian with MIT researchers who have worked on Mars missions! The movie is about an astronaut stranded on Mars after a severe storm, causing his crewmates to presume he is dead. The movie follows his journey to send a signal indicating that he is alive. It is a PG-13 movie, being played from 6:30 to 9:30, and after there will be a discussion about the movie. 

Virtual MIT chain-reaction

This year, our much-treasured F.A.T. MIT chain reaction, have been turned virtual, and are scheduled for this wednesday. You can sign up here: After you sign up, you will get a chance to build and explain your own contraption. After the call, all of the contraptions will be compiled into one big video!

Planning for April Vacation

If you aren’t planning to travel anywhere, why not explore within your own community? RIMOSA is offering booked slots to come in and explore the museum. April vacation is a great time to explore your community and science, so why not check out RI’s wonderful museums!?


Keep North Attleboro Beautiful is back!

This year, the Keep North Attleboro Beautiful society is back with our annual Great American cleanup! On Saturday, May 1, gather with your families and grab a trash bag and give your community a thorough spring cleaning! 

Christa McAuliffe silver dollar is being minted!

This month, we are proud to say that FIRST is being represented on the Christa McAuliffe silver dollar! On this limited Edition souvenir, Ms. McAuliffe’s eternal words, “I touch the future. I teach.” are engraved. If you would like to learn more about this commemorating currency, click here

The great unblocking of the Suez canal

While a lot of people were having fun in the nice weather in March, others were busy at work trying hard to unblock the Suez Canal. On March 23, the cargo ship, Ever Given, one of the world’s largest cargo ships became beached in the Suez Canal, near Suez, Egypt. Finally, after 6 long days, the ship became unstuck. Thankfully, it only took 6 days to put the ship back on the right track, before they would have to unload around 18,000 shipping containers!

Sky-watching opportunities in April at Ladd Observatory

This month, Mars is easily recognizable in the night sky, so watch out for our red, interstellar neighbor this week! Apart from that, look out for Lepus, the small animal that Orion hunts. Lepus is a winged hare, so if you are interested in finding a stellar Easter bunny, we definitely recommend looking out for that!

We do have one pass of the International Space Station this week.  Tuesday evening, look for it rising out of the western sky about 8:13, and travel for several minutes toward the southwest, where it will disappear at 8:18.

AOPS is offering spring/summer classes

As Summer is approaching, there are many opportunities for summer camps and classes. AoPS is offering summer math classes. They offer Algebra, Geometry, Probability, and Competition Prep classes! Don’t miss this great opportunity to further your knowledge in math while having fun!

If you got forwarded this newsletter & found it useful, and would like to sign up here.

Issue 5: 3rd Feb 2021

Dear Readers,

We didn’t send a newsletter in the Jan as there weren’t many STEM activities happening.

But in this issue there are many awesome and free STEM programs for February vacation. There is also a nice collection of competitions that your child can participate in. 

Cambridge Science Festival: 2021 Curiosity challenge

Are you curious? Do you wonder how the world around you works? We want to know about your curiosity. Show us! Tell us! Join the 14th annual Curiosity Challenge!

The Challenge is a contest for 5-14 year olds that takes place every winter. Show us what you’re curious about by drawing a picture, writing an essay or poem, taking a photo, or doing something else entirely! Submit your entry with a description of your project and how it prompted you to explore the world around you.

Why are there different types of clouds? Why do we sneeze and what makes us yawn? Will we live on Mars? We want to know what YOU are curious about!

Museum of Science #MOSatHome Events, Feb. 1-5  

Boston’s Museum of Science, through its #MOSatHome initiative offers almost daily programs online, free for all ages. The current week’s schedule has the following for this week:

Sharon Math & Science Tournament, Grades 6-8, Online, Mar. 27  

The 7th annual Sharon Math and Science Tournament (SMST) will be held virtually on March 27, 1PM-6PM. It’s organized each year by a team of Sharon High School students to foster passion for STEM through collaboration and critical thinking. Middle-school students from anywhere are invited to register, individually or in teams of 4-6. For more information, see the flyer, or read the FAQs or email

Various STEM Contests for Students  

The American Society for Engineering Education notes the following free, online STEM contests open to students:

  • MathWorks Math Modeling Contest:  Grades 11 & 12 — up to 2 teams per school, of 2-3 students each — tackle real-world math problems online under time and resource constraints. Register by February 19 at 4PM.

  • New York Times STEM Writing Contest: Middle/High school students ages 11-19 write an engaging, 500-word explanation of a STEM-related issue or question of their choice. January 19 – March 2.

  • ACTE/NASA Student Video Contest: Students of all ages create videos on the theme of Advancing Space Exploration through Manufacturing. Submit entries by April 1.

  • EngineerGirl Writing Contest: Grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 submit essays by February 1(!) about engineering’s role in meeting and defeating the challenges presented by COVID-19.

MSMR Student Competition: Enter a Poster, Essay, or Website  

The Massachusetts Society for Medical Research will hold its 29th Annual Student Competition, in which New England students in Grades 7-12 learn about a breakthrough in life sciences and report about it via a poster, essay, or website — as if reporting for the What A Year website for science discovery.  Awards of up to $500 will be made in two levels:  Grades 7-8 and Grades 9-12, with education grants for the teachers/advisors of the winning students.  Entries are due by April 30.  See the student packet.

Harvard Museums Online: I ❤️ Science 

The Harvard Museums of Science & Culture will present their online I Heart Science festival — four days of live discussions by Harvard scientists and graduate students, at-home activities, and views of museum specimens — February 12-15, 1PM-2:30PM each day. Register at the links below, at least 30 minutes before each event.

  • Incredible Evolution: February 12.  Meet Harvard researchers studying how brains evolve and how stress can enhance performance. Watch recorded videos by Harvard scientists studying mice behavior or try your hand at comparing bone structures, collecting bugs, and investigating the Giant Moa skeleton.

  • Tiny Creatures: February 13.  Meet live tardigrades (water bears), watch recorded videos featuring Harvard scientists who study bacterial resistance, ways to test for viruses, and how bacteria grow. Try making a water-drop microscope, comparing communities of microbes, and drawing microbes.

  • Love the Earth, February 14.  Meet Harvard researchers studying how we can design batteries large enough to power a building and investigate what it takes to save endangered species. Try growing crystals, modeling volcanos, and closely looking at an amethyst geode.

  • Faraway Worlds, February 15.  Meet Harvard researchers studying how we study the sun and what we hope to learn from missions to Mars. Try investigating light, explore what we know about coelacanths and hear the story behind the museum’s Kronosaurus specimen

Providence Country day is looking for a Camp Director for 2 weeks

Providence Country Day School is  looking for a fun, engaging, interactive robotics director. This individual would be responsible for designing and implementing a two week program for campers between the ages of 10-15 years old. The camper will come in with a varying amount of experience.

Qualifications: Pursuing a degree in a related field,Experience working in an educational environment,Working at a summer camp (prefered),Positive and energetic attitude!

Dates and Times:The camp would run July 14 - July 25 from 9am-3pm. 

If you are interested, please reach out to Emet Schwartz, Director of Summer Programs, at


Sharon Youth Robotics Association (SYRA) meetings for FLL teams

SYRA is not for profit, volunteer run organization located in Sharon, MA that was created to provide support to FIRST teams in our local and distant communities by exposing teams to competition level rules and enforcement so that they can be super prepared for competitions. 

Meetings are held virtually biweekly on Mondays from 6:30-7:30 pm


Most of the meetings will be spent doing virtual test robot runs, where you’ll have an opportunity to practice your runs and receive feedback from others. As we approach tournament time, we will also have project presentation practice opportunities and will receive feedback from a judging panel.

The link below is a sign-up form for the 2020-21 season of SYRA Sign-Up Form 

Here are some interesting Science articles:

Pesticides and plastic mulch are not the ideal pair, new research suggests

Plastic mulch is used widely in agriculture, to increase profit. Most plastic mulch is made of LDPE plastic, which is the one that takes longest to degrade. Pesticides are used to give a better chance of evicting any pests To battle this problem, researchers have developed a ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic that breaks down faster when exposed to sunlight.  The decomposition of pesticides is visibly more when there are no plastics around, due to plastic ‘retaining’ the active ingredients in the pesticides. It is essential that the use of plastics in soil is lessened, as the microorganisms that are responsible for biodegradation could be affected by the retention of pesticides in the soil by plastic. 

Robotics is becoming more and more popular in sports, starting with robotic players

This game is beneficial because it involves robotics, which is great for young minds because it teaches intelligent brainstorming, and soccer, which involves strategic thinking and teamwork. The RoboCup tournaments started in 1990, where teams design robots and prepare to play a soccer match. Robots have become more and more complicated over time, and codes are more and more lengthy. Your robot needs to know how to attack, defend, and score, which takes a lot of preparation and programming. But some researchers at Moscow University created a search method that could save lots of time. This could be a game changer for the benefits of RoboCup.

Keep Building,

kids CAN change the world...