Teamwork Earns Catholic Academy Top Robotics Prize

Tags: Currents, Catholic Academy, Catholic Education, Diocese of Brooklyn, Queens, NY, Robotics, STEM

By Tim Harfmann

Zipping across the science lab floor, a remote-controlled robot can pick up and throw a ball. The group, known as the ‘Sharp Blades,’ built it from scratch. “It’s really awesome being able to build stuff and represent the school,” said Jamila Torres. She’s a fifth grader and Sharp Blades team member.

At a citywide LEGO competition, the young inventors from Saint Bartholomew Catholic Academy in Elmhurst, Queens beat nearly 30 other teams in the ‘core values’ category. “That meant that the judges saw the team is really a cohesive team, they respect each other, they work together, and they have fun while they’re working,” said Francis Belizario, the leader of the award-winning team. The group is made up of nearly 20 students from the fourth to the eighth grades and started working together only a few months ago. “If you get one or two kids who are great with robot design or research, you get an award; but you have to have every single person on the team working together,” said Belizario.

The Sharp Blades credited their Catholic education for winning the core values category. “It helps with behavior. It also teaches you to be a good student and a good role model for little kids,” said Jesson Phagoo. He is a fifth grader and team member.

And what they’ve learned building robots will help them in the future. Fifth grader Danielle Tuble dreams of becoming an engineer, following in her father’s footsteps. She wants to help people back in her family’s homeland of the Philippines. “They travel through boat, which is why I want to design a bridge so people with cars can travel from one island to another island,” said Tuble.

Now, the mini-but-mighty geniuses have their inventions on exhibit at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. At this weekend’s expo, they’ll show off their robots — and core values.