Baltimore, MD - May 6, 2021 - Robots have taken over the halls of Torah Institute once again at the second annual CIJE sponsored Robotics competition in Maryland on Monday. Last year’s tournament, in which TI boys won first place, was mere weeks before the world shut down for Covid. This year the boys were determined to make it happen albeit in a safe, socially distant way. With the coordination of Dr. Suzanne Cotter, and after postponing the tournament three separate times, the event was scheduled. The TI small auditorium was quiet compared to last year, when all teams had played together simultaneously. This year, while the room looked and sounded very different, it certainly had its own charm. The room radiated achdus from all corners.  The program, which is for boys in 7th-8th grade, began in February. Students researched, programmed, and designed their own robots that could accomplish myriad physical tasks on a special rink. Each task is assigned a point value, and points are added up.

This year with Covid, specific pods, (classes that have been together since school reopened) played against each other. When two teams were done, the next group of teams came in without overlap. All of their scores were tallied and the top scored classes made it to the play-offs. Younger students from around the school were invited as madrichim to hand out schedules, and reset the rink in a socially distant manner. Aaron Gross and Eliyahu Meir Hexter, two of TI’s 5th Grade student reporters for the monthly magazine, “The TI Telescope”, were invited to cover the event. Their news story will be coming out in next month’s edition, BEZ’H.

The VEX  Robotics tournament had two rounds, All-Play and Play-offs.

All-Play qualifies students for entering the play-offs, the top 8 teams go to the play-offs. TI’s new STEM advisor Mr. Allen Feiglin was terrific. In fact, one team's robot broke down completely minutes before the contest and he worked with the boys to get it up and running. Student Programmer Menachem Kirshenbaum was really the glue that held the program together through various Covid-19  restrictions and staffing changes.

Generally this tournament is played on the same day as all participating schools on a national level. The CIJE leaders: Joseph Saltzman - CIJE STEM Mentor, Adam Jerozolim - Director of Curriculum Development, and Philip Brazil - Director of Development ran the day’s program seamlessly. The leaders shared  that TI’s Teams 1, 8, 2, and 6 were good enough to have been competitive on the national scoreboard however this year's contest was not structured that way.

TI’s winners this year were:

First Place:

Team #1 came in first place in both rounds; Sruly Jakobovits and Chaim Robinson. Team #8 tied for 1st place in the Play-Off round: Simcha Hopfer, Shmuel Abba Reischer, Avrumi Stoll, and Mordechai Tendler.

Second Place:

Team #2 and Team #6 tied for second place

#2: Yisroel Daniel, Ephraim Meister, Shragi Parnes,  Akiva Sova

#6: Yosef Chaim Bamberger, Yitzi Cohen, Shlomo Zev Shnidman

Third Place:

Team #12 and Team #13 tied for third place

#12: Yosef Amster, Shlomo Hackerman, Binny Kern

#13: Yisroel Meir Feinberg, Shmuel Nudell, Sruli Shapiro, Elchonon Sheffield

The talmidim and parents alike were so appreciative this program was made possible this year.  It was described by many grateful parents as a strong team building, creative thinking, and superb learning experience for all. Most importantly in a time where we have been physically distant, it was nice to bring back an outlet to incorporate achdus with this activity amongst the boys.