Robots Battle in Micronesian ‘Yapital Robo Day’ Competition

By: Neil Mellen

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”