Board office comes alive as students take part in central junior robotics competition

School regions take part in central junior robotics competition

April 4, 2023

“Oh so close!” “Okay, that one almost stuck.” “Here, why don’t you try this sequence and measurement.” 

The Catholic Education Centre board room was alive with ooh’s, aah’s, and words of encouragement as students in grades four to six competed in the central junior robotics competition on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

School regions take part in central junior robotics competition

Students from St. Alphonsus CES practice their sequence before the timer starts.

Students adorned school jerseys and the boardroom sounded more like a hockey arena as teams vied for a chance to represent the board in provincial competition.

Eight schools from across the region took part in the annual competition as the final leg against their PVNC peers in robotics. 

“I’ve had a number of opportunities to bring students to this event,” reflects Jonathan Berlingeri, teacher and robotics coach at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School in Douro. “It’s fun having kids work together and have the opportunity to solve problems together and work on interpersonal skills and technical skills through challenges.”

School regions take part in central junior robotics competition

Coach and teacher Jonathan Berlingeri offers guidance to students from St. Joseph Douro CES.

Teams participated in two challenges, each involving coding a robot to solve a series of tasks with the ultimate goal of successfully completing the circuit within the shortest amount of time. Using problem solving skills, students worked together to share ideas on best approaches to tackling each one. While each competition is ultimately judged on timing, consideration was given to teams who demonstrated critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and self-regulation.

St. Catherine CES student Amelia Slater attributed her excitement for the competition to the prospect of working with a team. “Three years ago I did a robotics camp and was excited it was offered at school. Today, I was excited to do the coding part of the challenge during the competition and work with a team. My teammate Abrielle taught me a lot about actually driving the robot.”

For many coaches, this was their first time participating in a robotics competition coaching a team. 

Jr. Central Robotics Tournament

Coaches Kelly Clement and James Mellon help students Amelia S. and Abrielle C. problem solve.

“I signed up for it because it’s important to have a variety of extra curricular options for students in schools that aren’t just sports,” explains Kelly Clement, teacher at St. Catherine CES. “Some of the kids excel athletically and others have different opportunities and abilities. I hope the students participating today get a sense of motivation from something they enjoy doing. There’s a need to get more kids involved in robotics because there are so many different skills that go into it; teamwork, communication, computer skills, math for measuring, etc.”

Even family members were involved throughout the day as many attended to watch their child participate in challenges. One parent, Sarah Bass, made a point to describe how excited her son Logan, from St. Joseph Douro CES,  was to participate in the competition. 

School regions take part in central junior robotics competition

Logan B. from St. Joseph Douro CES working during the competition on coding.

“Logan has been excited through the whole process, has been motivated with this incentive, and has been really engaged through practices and working with his team,” described Bass. “As a parent, I hope he learns that there are things you can pursue in school that you are passionate about, and get a glimpse into the range of activities that he could possibly participate in in high school.”

In the end, the Good Shepherd CES t team claimed the first place spot, and will represent PVNC Catholic at the Skills Ontario competition in Toronto in May. St. Catherine CES and St. Joseph CES Douro placed second and third respectively.