Ironically, it was a disappointing loss (or two) that led Boys Town Jerusalem’s Robotics Team members to discover the key to becoming big winners.

Disappointment was the biggest mistake

“Our teams put their heart and soul into building champion robots,” explains 12th grader Shay Neuhaus, the mover-and-shaker of BTJ’s extracurricular Robotics program. “Nonetheless, we didn’t bring home trophies. Our big mistake was feeling so disappointed. By now, we’ve learned that the real contest is in the process of working as a team to design and build the robot. In that arena, we’re such powerful champs that we enter a tournament as winners before the competition even begins.”

Not surprisingly, the trophies have begun rolling in.

Bringing home the trophies

The revelation was born in 2021’s dark Covid days, Shay recalls. “Our team could only meet via Zoom until school reopened just weeks before the national competition, pushing us to feverishly work together day and night to build and perfect our robot.” Against staggering odds, BTJ’s Robotics Team aced Second Place in the all-star Israel FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) 2021 competition. Inspired, the younger BTJ robotics enthusiasts went on to score Second Place in the FLL (FIRST Lego League) Israel competition. By the close of the 2022 schoolyear, BTJ’s 8th Grade FLL Robotics Team carried home a First-Place trophy in the Off Season FLL (FIRST Lego League) Jerusalem.

It’s not about winning that makes you winners

“We don’t build the robots,” Shay declares. “The robots build us. Robotics teams teach us cooperation, confidence, caring, and more, changing my life and that of every team member.” This year, Shay has expanded BTJ’s extracurricular Follender Robotics Program to encompass grades 7-12, encouraging every participant to excel.

Recalling his first days in BTJ’s Robotics Club as an eighth grader, Shay salutes the inspiration and guidance
of his mentor, then-11th grader Elazar Leynov. “Today, I’m a mentor to younger students, and they will continue
the tradition after me.”

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