Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) restrictions and lack of materials did not deter six students of Abra High School from participating in the World Robot Games (WRG) online edition.
Their determination paid off as they bagged two bronze medals for their functional robot entries in the April 3 to 21 contest, their teacher and coach Jephunneh Gasmen told the Philippine News Agency in an interview on Saturday.
The two teams of ninth and 10th grade students, aged 13 and 14, got help from adult family members, who scoured junk shops, automotive repair shops, and other sources in the capital town of Bangued for recyclables needed to create the entries.
The students came up with projects that can help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The portable dual-powered renewable energy source hands-free sanitation station was created by Grade 9 students Marc Dei Neil Bides and David James Rayver Viado, and eighth grader Venice Balbin.
The second project is the disinfection channel, sensor-automatic and contactless, of Keneth Serunno, Ma. Teresa Viste, and Sheffaly Daime Valencia, all Grade 10 students.
“It was difficult (putting them together) because the students did not have their own complete kits to allow them to create and practice on their own to make the project,” Gasmen said.
Another challenge was the students were locked down in their homes, preventing the school from directly supervising the completion of the project.
“They had to research online. We meet online but the difficult Internet signal was also a challenge. Some were just on audio and unable to see what is being done, “Gasmen shared.
Aside from looking for recyclable materials, the parents also chipped in to purchase two robot-making kits that moved from one house to another.
The kit contains the microcontroller or the “brain” needed to make the robot function.
For about six months, Viste said her team developed concepts, constructed and pilot tested robots, and gathered data.
The pilot testing allowed the students to fix and revise their entries.
“Kapag pumasok ka, mase-sense ka niya kaya automatic magdi-disinfect sayo for three seconds (It will sense you when you enter the room and automatically disinfect you for three seconds),” Vistre said.
Viado said the hands-free hand sanitation station has a dispensing system for water, soap and alcohol.
“Dual power source that is a solar panel and the microbial fuel cell or the water used in washing hands can be used to power it,” Viado said.
He shared that it helped that he grew up playing in his father’s auto shop and his toys were whatever he is allowed to touch.
Judges validated the functionality of the entry via live performance of the contestants.
“The World Robot Games 2021 is a very unique WRG where due to global pandemic and travel restrictions, all games were held online. It was the first of its kind in WRG and despite the challenges all of us face, our mission in WRG has never been clearer. That is, to continue to provide an exciting and holistic platform for all robotic enthusiasts worldwide to learn and compete with each other,” the contest website stated.
The theme for WRG2021 is ” New World After Covid”. Teams were challenged not only against each other but also to innovate and create robots according to the theme.
Gasmen said it was the second time that their school joined the WRG.
The first was in 2019 in Thailand where Grade 10 student Meljon Viste, 16, also took home a bronze for his “enviro robot” that can pick and take out garbage from canals and waterways.
Gasmen said their Science classes train students to create investigatory projects and make researches on functional things.
Even if the school lacks the equipment and supplies for robotics, they have students who show interest.
“Remedyo (We remedy),” he said to compensate for what is lacking.
“Team, thank you for giving me the chance to learn with you, and congratulations, we made it again! Those sacrifices and hard work paid off, for they will be worth it in your future. Nothing worth having comes easy. For those who always support the journey of Abra High School Robotics and Innovation Team, we deeply commend you. To our dearest parents and guardians of the team, congratulations, ma’ams and sirs,” Gasmen posted on his Facebook account after the online awarding ceremony. (PNA)