Bais Yaakov Middle School Does it Again! 

Mr. Joey Saltzman, CIJE 

Excitement filled the air as Bais Yaakov Middle School boarded their bus bound for the CIJE Winter Robotics Tournament, this year hosted at the Yeshiva Ktana of Passaic. The robotics teams had spent countless hours designing, building, and programming their robot under the guidance of their teachers Rochelle Goldberg, Meira Berendt, and Miriam Schechter. Proud parents and grandparents also came to Passaic to watch the competition. Bais Yaakov thanks CIJE for the wonderful opportunity of bringing robotics to their school. Students get to experience the thrill of building and programming a robot to compete in a playing field of varying skills and challenges.

CIJE, the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education, partners with Jewish schools across the country to prepare students for the skills and jobs of the twenty-first century. With a focus on STEAM education, CIJE helps schools and teachers implement curriculum from kindergarten through twelfth grade. In the CIJE Robotics League, Jewish students learn how to build and program robots for a tournament game. This year’s game involves robots picking up blocks and scoring them in matching color goals before parking their robots.  Mrs. Goldberg, Bais Yaakov’s head robotics coach, explains “CIJE is great!  At first. we didn’t know how to do anything.  CIJE helped us, especially Mr. Joey Saltzman.  He came to our school and taught us how to do everything.  We now design, build, and program winning robots!” 

Arriving in Passaic, nerves and anticipation were palpable. The venue was filled with eight schools and over 100 girls from Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The competition was fierce but the Bais Yaakov teams stood out not only for their technical ability but also for their exceptional teamwork. Each team member contributed her unique skills to the project. The lessons they learned from working on robotics extended beyond engineering – communication, collaboration, and problem-solving were equally crucial. Mrs. Goldberg describes the process her 13 year old students go through to build a robot. “Our girls learned how to brainstrom and collaborate, how to have patience, how to build a robot, and rebuld a robot, again and again; learning valuable life skills with a bonus of basic engineering and programming. All this learning is taking place in a fun-filled atmosphere. I am so proud of them.” CIJE’s meticulous attention to detail and tournament execution creates an environment of healthy competition that inspires a passion for robotics in the students.

As the matches unfolded, their ability to adapt and strategize became evident. When the final scores were announced, the Bais Yaakov Robotics Club erupted in joy – teams from their club had placed first, second, and third.  To achieve their first place win, Bais Yaakov students collaborated with girls from YBH Passaic to score 99 points – the highest score at any of the CIJE robotics tournaments this season! The Bais Yaakov Robotics Club has now won first place consistently for the third year in a row. But, more importantly, they also learned invaluable lessons about teamwork, perseverance, and the rewards of combining individual strengths to achieve a common goal.

1st Place – Tobi Smith, Layla Orlofsky, and Dassa Steger

2nd Place – Meira Goodhart, Yonina Dancziger, Esther Leah Booker, and Chava Reeva Goldfinger

3rd Place – Tehilla Gross and Devora Ifrah

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