Lion Cup II – Diocesan STREAM Robotics competition a huge success

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:

Middle school

1st – Falcons 23 – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

2nd – Stars Team 01 – St. Andrew Catholic School

3rd – St. Joes 6 – St. Joseph Catholic School

High 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

2022 LION CUP STREAM Robotics Challenge huge success

With a shower of confetti, the inaugural Diocese of Venice Lion Cup Robotics Tournament got off to a rousing start on May 14, 2022, 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 150 competitors, 23 teams, representing 13 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.

Emily Graham of the middle school Shambots 2 team from Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish said the team prayed and sought the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for success in the competition.

“We worked so hard to get ready and it was so much fun to compete against the other schools and then we won,” Emily, a 6th grader said with a big smile. “These robots are so amazing. We worked together to get everything to work.”

Jackalyn Flynn, a member of the Dollar Store Stark Industries team from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, said the competition was tough but she had lots of fun. “This was hard. We just created our team and learned so much from this competition. We will do better next year.”

In a welcome video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, he described the students as pioneers forging a path for the next generation of leaders and innovators and believers.

“Your ideas and enthusiasm show no bounds as we celebrate the creative challenge founded on the Gifts of Christ,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Lion Cup is more than a friendly competition among Catholic schools, it demonstrates that STREAM is a faith-infused program that can help solve many of the world’s most daunting problems by upholding Catholic values and teaching the principles of strength, utility and beauty. The Lion Cup showcases that Diocese of Venice Catholic schools are preparing students who are ready to build, lead and succeed in a time when science and technology are at the forefront of nearly every facet of our lives.”

The competition was fierce as teams programed 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 as they go through the obstacle course, their autonomous robot picks up items along the way. Teamwork comes into play in design, construction and strategy. The high school robots are 10 times larger and are both autonomous and have a remote control.

Just before the competition began, teams were allowed to practice on the designated courses and test their work. Many teams made adjustments before the actual competition began and then the intensity and focus of the participants was ramped up. With their teammates/classmates cheering from the sidelines, each completed – or failed- task evoked a reaction.

The teams were judged on robot design, accuracy, efficiency and other factors. Awards were presented to the top teams at the end of the competition.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education, said it was a great day, beyond his wildest dreams, giving much credit to Jennifer Falestiny, Diocesan Curriculum Coordinator and leader of the STREAM initiative in the Diocesan schools.

“What a huge success. So much virtue was shown here today,” Father Belmonte said. We do all of these things to give glory to God. That’s why our schools exist. That’s why our teachers teach. That’s why your parents send you to the school – everything to God’s glory.”

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. “All three of these attributes will be aspects of our students’ robotic designs. The students have been preparing for this tournament for months and were eager to compete.”

Special awards were presented to the teams that reflected the attributes of Firmitas, Utilitas, and Venustas.

The Department of Education at the Diocese of Venice plans to host larger robotics competitions every year, possibly opening the invitation to other schools throughout Florida.

The winning teams were:

Middle school

  • 1st – Shambots 2 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish
  • 2nd – ECS Tigers 2 – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School
  • 3rd – Falcon Robot – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

High School

  • 1st – Despair Parts – St. John Neumann Catholic High School
  • 2nd – Shambots 1 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish
  • 3rd – SJN Team 2 – St. John Neumann Catholic High School

Venustas – Beauty – Our Lady of Mercy – Co-Patroness of the Diocese of Venice

  • Middle school – ECS Tigers 1 – Eiphany Cathedral Catholic School
  • High school – Dollar Store Stark Industries – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

Utilitas – Utility – St. Macrina – Patron Saint of Robots

  • Middle school – Falcon Robot – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School
  • High school – Shambots 1 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish

Firmitas – Strength – St. Mark the Evangelist – Co-Patron of the Diocese of Venice

  • Middle school – Dragons – St. Mary Academy
  • High school – Dollar Store Stark Industries – Bishop Verot Catholic High School