From left, Dennis Quinn, computer technology teacher in St. Mary Academy, with students Nick Carra-ra, Sebastian Sares, and Addie and Nicole Schirripa. Courtesy photo
From left, Dennis Quinn, computer technology teacher in St. Mary Academy, with students Nick Carra-ra, Sebastian Sares, and Addie and Nicole Schirripa. Courtesy photo
" Teamwork is key in this type of environment. "
Robotics and coding have become signposts of a well-rounded science education, in public and Catholic schools alike. Evidence of the latter’s aptitude for this 21st century subject was demonstrated recently by the middle-schoolers of St. Mary Academy, Manahawkin, two of whom rose to the top ranks of a regional competition.

Nicholas Carrara and Sebastian Sares, both seventh-graders, placed third in the recent Mid-Atlantic Region Cyber Robotics CoderZ Competition Finals held at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Their team, Dub Catchers, was one of 42 teams from New Jersey, New York and Delaware competing in the daylong event.

“Nick and Sebastian are not only highly motivated coders, but they are disciplined as well,” said Lizanne Coyne, St. Mary Academy principal. “When they work with other students in our school, they help them all become better coders.”

Each portion of the competition involved a “mission,” increasing in difficulty and point value. Teams had to navigate a robot using coding around barriers and through terminals to score 100, 200 or 400 points. The missions varied in length as well; some allowed an hour and others shorter periods.

Dennis Quinn, the school’s computer technology teacher, had nothing but praise for the duo. “I think they did awesome,” he said. “These guys were cool under pressure and didn’t get too stressed out. Teamwork is key in this type of environment, and Nick and Sebastian … worked well together.”

Another St. Mary’s team qualified for the finals, seventh-graders and sisters Nicole and Adrianna Schirripa, who placed in the top 50 percent with their 17th place standing. During the closing ceremony, Carerra, Sares, the Schirippas and their sister, Julia, were also recognized as five of only 20 Mid-Atlantic Finalists to have completed all 103 missions available, putting them in the event’s “100 Club.”

Contributing Editor EmmaLee Italia contributed to this article.