The defending champions of last year’s World Robotics Olympiad showcase their robots during the launch of the 12th Philippine Robotics Olympiad (PRO) last June 21. The winners of this year’s PRO will go on to represent the country in the WRO. Video by Matikas Santos/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is looking to defend the championship in the upcoming World Robotics Olympiad (WRO) this year after two teams of high school students won first and second place in last years’ competition.
The national leg of the global competition, the 12th Philippine Robotics Olympiad (PRO), was launched last June 21 Friday in order to choose who will represent the country for the WRO this year.
“This year, we expect over 400 public and private schools nationwide to participate in the national competition. The grand awardees will represent the Philippines in the WRO 2013 to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 15-17 2013, ” Felta Multi Media Inc., the organizer of the PRO, said in a statement during the launch.
This year, 33 countries worldwide will participate in the global competition.
Mylene Abiva, National Organizer of the PRO and President-CEO of Felta Multi Media Inc., said that “The PRO generates early interest in science and encourages our youth to be our future scientists, engineers and inventors. The robotics program is an exciting development in education.”
Robots connecting people
Last year’s grand champions of the high school category in the WRO, a team composed of Claire Renosa, Chelsea Morales, and Tricia Santos from Dr Yangas Colleges Inc. (DYCI), showcased their winning robot named “Hero” which stands for Humanoid for Educational Reinforcement Operations.
They designed Hero in line with the competition’s theme of “Robots Connecting People.”
Hero, which was designed, built, and programmed entirely by the DYCI students, can play the Rock, Paper, and Scissors game, automatically segregate papers and plastics, present dancing mini-robots, and give a quiz on either Math, Science, or English subjects.
The robot and its different sections took some eight months to build, Renosa and Morales said in an interview. They were fully supported by the DYCI administration in terms of financing given that one robotics kit could cost some P40,000.
The robotics kit is a Lego brick-building play set and contains an additional “NXT brick,” which is basically a small computer that can be programed to carry out instructions for the robot’s operations.
Hero needed at least 10 NXT bricks recycled from older robots to carry out its different functions, Renosa said. She added that they made Hero after being inspired by Efren Penaflorida, CNN’s 2009 Hero of the Year, who was famous for his “Kariton Classrooms.”
The team that won second place were from Grace Christian College composed of Calvin Ng, Josh Daniel Ong, and Patricia Ong. Their robot is named iLearn which stands for Interactive Learning with Exciting Advanced Robot Navigation.
iLearn is a robot that looks just like a basketball shooting game commonly found on arcades. It is slightly different however in the way it works. Two people can play the robot’s game at any one time, and it has four baskets, two for each player, and a combination of small red and blue plastic balls to shoot with.
Patricia explained that a player needs to shoot the blue balls into the blue basket on his side and the same for the red balls for the red basket to score one point. If a blue ball goes into a red basket, a point is deducted. The tricky part is that both players can shoot the wrong balls in their opponent’s basket to cause deductions.
Patricia said that the robots made by the Philippine teams were the most interactive. “We had the longest line of people [who wanted to see our robot] in our booth,” she said.
iLearn took the team some two weeks for conceptualization and design and another two months to build. They created a separate computer program for the scoring system that was integrated into the robot.
Growing interest in robotics
Dr. Filma Brawner, Director, Science Education Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, said during the launching that the increasing participation of Philippine schools in robotics competitions shows the increasing interest in robotics.
Renosa also shared how the robotics competition helped her develop her skills in building as well as her creativity and imagination.
“I also became more self-confident and independent because the competition allowed me to travel to a new country and see different places with different people,” she said.
When asked what robot she would build if she had all the materials she needed, Renosa said she wants to make a flying robot. Her teammate Morales said she wants to make a robot that can do household chores.
The Philippine Robotics Academy composed of several elementary and secondary schools was also launched during the event.
The elementary schools that are part of the Robotics Academy are: Claret School of Quezon City, Colegio San Agustin Makati, Grace Christian College, Comembo Elementary School, Tibagan Elementary School, Nemesio Yabut Elementary School, De La Salle Lipa Integrated School, and West Rembo Elementary School.
The secondary schools are: Tibagan High School, Makati Science High School, De La Salle Santiago Zobel School, Pitogo High School, Hope Christian High School, Grace Christian College, Dr Yangas Colleges Inc, and Benigno S Aquino High School.