Three Claretian students namely: Jan Kristoper A. Cuevas (10-BEM), Alaric S. Espiña (10-BEM) and Juan Gabriel A. Flores (7-SAK) accompanied by their coach, Mr. Roxan Ruchillo Cosico went to San Jose, Costa Rica last November 8 to 13, 2017 to join 2,500 students coming from 66 countries to compete in this year’s 14th World Robot Olympiad. Hundreds of robots were brought by these students to compete in soccer, problem solving tasks and tackle some of Earth’s dire sustainability challenges, carbon neutrality, and clean energy.
The Claretian students have to hurdle so many obstacles just to be part of this most prestigious robotics competition. There were 60,000 students who competed in their respective countries to earn a slot in this year’s robotics Olympiad. At the national level, during the finals,the Claretians have to beat four schools in a row in a span of 3 hours in order to move up and grabbed the silver medal to earn the right to represent the Philippines in the World Robot Olympiad. Two Philippine Science high schools, Bicol and Eastern Visayas joined them to Costa Rica.
How to go to Costa Rica? A ray of hope came when Fr. Santiago Gonzalez,CMF. Claret School Administrator, and who had been in Costa Rica attending a meeting of Economes some years ago, promised the team that they will be at the meeting in Costa Rica representing the Philippines. And so it happened. They reached to Costa Rica. Fr. Gonzalez arranged also the possibility of meeting students from a Colegio Claretiano in Costa Rica. The school Director of Colegio Claretiano, Fr. Leonel Enrique Castro, CMF welcomed the Philippine delegation at the school.
On the day of the departure they were greeted by Philippine Airlines personnel inside the airplane. The flight attendant announced that on board the aircraft are Filipino students, their coaches and their parents who will compete in the World Robot Olympiad in Costa Rica; wish them good luck!
The team was accompanied by no less than the CEO of FELTA Multimedia, Ms. Mylene Abiva, the organizer of the trip to the WRO. It was one of the highlights of the trip to meet and greet the wonderful teachers, students and administrators of Colegio Claretiano. The school had 900 high school students on a sprawling campus, it had several two story buildings and a round chapel similar to the church in Claret School of Quezon City. It had a soccer field, track and field and a swimming pool.
On the day of the competition, in the 9,000-square-meter Parque Viva exhibit hall, they heard languages from around the world. But the competitors seemed to understand each other through a shared love of building and programming robots. “Our main objective is to make children and teenagers fall in love with science and technology. Robotics is one of many tools by which you can achieve that,” said Alejandra Sánchez, a mechanical and electrical engineer who teaches robotics at the University of Costa Rica and was a key organizer of the event.
The robot soccer tournament mimics a FIFA World Cup. Three students have built and programmed two robots; one was a defender and another one was a striker. Once the referee blows his whistle, you have to let go of your robots and the striker robot will attempt to locate an electronic soccer ball, it goes after it and kicks it towards the goal. The defender robot will try to block the incoming ball and as the game went along it was as if the robots have a mind of their own trying to outwit each other. During the actual event, the bleachers were filled with fans bringing along their country’s flags and cheering for their teams. It was the most exciting event in these three days of competition. The Philippine team faced its opponents on the second day. Claret played against Kazakhstan, Greece, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei. The team fought bravely and managed to score a few points in the early rounds but the other countries were better equipped with more sensors and had more freedom of movement thus in the end they lost. The two other Philippine soccer teams from Philippine Science High school suffered the same fate. Chinese Taipei bagged the gold and silver while Russia took the bronze. No matter what the outcome was, the coaches were all proud of their teams. It was the first time that the Claretian team was able to participate in the soccer event in the World Robot Olympiad and surely they have learned a lot from it.
The team wishes to thank Fr. Santiago Gonzalez who was really instrumental for turning a dream into reality Ms. Mylene Abiva, teachers and friends and parents. They dedicate their achievements to God, country and their Alma Mater, Claret School of Quezon City.