By: Neil Mellen
(Yap, Micronesia) Over 100 students, teachers, and parents convened in Colonia at the Yap Community Center in late May to support student robotic teams from Yap Catholic High School and the Yap SDA School. The inter school robotics league –and its end of the year exhibition– is the only extracurricular robotics program in the Central Pacific.
The competition began with facilitator Larry Raigetal of “Waa’gey,” who explained the ground and technical rules of the competition. Raigetal also provided the audience with background information of the program, now in its second year. He explained how each school provided their student teams with classroom and after school instruction during the course of the school year. The Robo Day event marked a final display of progress and competition, but the goals of the ambitious extracurricular program were being met throughout the last nine months. Both teams had designed and built their robot from an elementary parts kit, honing and improving the robots' performance through trial and error over two semesters.
Each of the two-student team was given five minutes to operate their robots through the pre-determined game course during two timed rounds. The Yap SDA team won a coin tossing and was given the opportunity to lead off the first round. Both teams were tied at thirteen points after the first round. Following some readjustments to the robots, the second round was given to Yap Catholic High School to lead off. The final score for the game was 20 points for Yap Catholic High School and Yap SDA garnering 17 points.
The competition this year brought more excitement to the crowd as the two robots were greatly modified by the teams, allowing them to maneuver and move about the course at higher speeds than last year. Both teams did exceptionally well in operating their robots. Fr. Michael Corcoran SJ Principal of Yap Catholic High School said he was very happy with the turn out and was most impressed at the improvement made by both robotic teams. “Last year after the first round, the score was only 1-0” This is a huge improvement he said. Principal Ryan of Yap SDA shared Corcoran’s enthusiasm. Local television and media were also on site to interview the teams and their coaches following the event.
The US based charity “Habele” coordinated the event, with financial support from the European based electronic payments firm “Yapital." The Yap based Waa’gey organization organized the exhibition and served as a liaison to educators and team members throughout the school year. Larry Raigetal of Waa’gey declared the event a major success. “Not only did we see great improvements on the performance of the teams and their modified robots this year, the level of turn out and excitement of those who came only makes us want to work harder for a better event next year!”