The second annual Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools Lion Cup robotics competition was a huge success as 39 teams and more than 220 students gathered April 22, 2023, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers.
The Lion Cup – a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) middle and high school robotics tournament, included competitors and teams representing all 15 Diocesan Catholic schools. The competition was fierce, and the intensity built as the day progressed and the participants became laser-focused on being the best.
“I am very impressed,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane to all the competitors during the closing awards ceremony. “Everyone was at such a great level. Well done!”
Bishop Dewane said his support for the STREAM program, and robotics component, grew out of the concept of preparing students for the future.
“Whether in high school or middle school, we must prepare you to have the skills and exposure to this kind of process. STREAM and robotics introduce the skills that will be used in many different areas, and this faith-infused program enforces the virtues that are instilled into the very fabric of this program,” Bishop Dewane said.
The Bishop also thanked the Diocesan Education team, the teachers, coaches, parents and the students for embracing the STREAM initiative at all grade levels.
Leah Chung of the middle school Falcons 23 team from St. Francis Xavier said the team had been practicing intensely leading up to the competition, giving them the confidence to succeed.
“We worked so hard to get ready and it was so much fun to compete against the other schools,” Leah, an 8th grader said. “We used our different skills to become a real team and it showed today. We are all so happy.”
The winning high school team, Team NIC (Neumann in Control), was one of four teams competing from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples. After winning the top prize by one point, the teammates said their key strategy to success was how they focused on having fun, thus allowing the pressure of the competition to go away.
The competition was fierce as teams programmed their robots to accomplish various tasks in a specific order in a limited amount of time. The middle school robots are made from Lego pieces and traversed an obstacle course, attempting to pick up items along the way. Teamwork came into play in design, construction and strategy. The high school robots are 10 times larger and are both autonomous and have a remote control as they do assigned tasks.
The teams participated in a round robin format with each team getting the chance to have their robot compete at least twice. The top eight made the quarterfinals, four to the finals and an eventual winner was crowned. As each level commenced, the emotions ran high. In between the intense competition the teams had pizza and sweets served from food trucks.
Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the few hours of competition brought out the best from the students and reflected their core Catholic virtues.
Jennifer Falestiny, Diocese Curriculum Specialist, organized the event and was pleased to see so many competitors, nearly double the inaugural 2022 Lion Cup. “This is so wonderful to see everyone get so involved and excited about STREAM and robotics.”
The Lion Cup honors St. Mark, one of the patron saints of the Diocese of Venice, whose symbol features a winged lion. The competition also pays homage to Leonardo da Vinci, inventor of many of the first robots, one of which resembles a lion.
“Da Vinci’s works incorporate three design attributes developed by Vitruvius, a famous Roman architect and engineer: Firmitas (strength), Utilitas (utility) and Venustas (beauty),” said Father Belmonte.
Special awards were presented to the teams that reflected the attributes of Firmitas, Utilitas, and Venustas.
The day concluded with special guest Shevin McCullough, of Studio 3:16, a popular social media channel geared toward middle school students, who energized the students with music and key phrases to get the students excited about God.
The winning teams were:
1st – Falcons 23 – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School
2nd – Stars Team 01 – St. Andrew Catholic School
3rd – St. Joes 6 – St. Joseph Catholic School
1st – Team NIC (Neumann in Control) – St. John Neumann Catholic High School
2nd – Black & Gold Warriors (BGW) – Bishop Verot Catholic High School
3rd – Nerds Inc. – Bishop Verot Catholic High School
Venustas – Beauty – Our Lady – robotic design, innovation and creativity
Middle school – Phoenix #2 – St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School
High school – Academic Weapons, St. John Neuman Catholic High School
Utilitas – Utility – St. Marcina – Patron Saint of Robots – robotic design and function
Middle school – Falcons 23 – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School
High school – Team NIC (Neumann in Control) – St. John Neumann Catholic High School
Firmitas – Strength – St. Mark – Co-Patron of the Diocese of Venice – positive Catholic strength, culture and character
Middle school – ECS Tigers 1 – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School
High school – Black & Gold Warriors (BGW) – Bishop Verot Catholic High School