Words by Seymour Barros Sanchez
For the third time, Pitogo High School emerged as the Best Team in the Tagisang Robotics: Design, Build and Play Competition, which is organized by the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute, last November 20 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
Pitogo HS showed no rust as it dominated the playing field with its do-it-all robot to secure the best win-draw-loss record at the end of eliminations and lead the robotics contest once again, after winning Best Rookie Team and Best Team in 2013 and a back-to-back Best Team award in 2014.
The school’s “Thunderbots” team, which is composed of students Luke Alexander Pons, Nathaniel Macato, Jamella Marisse Ragasa, and Althea Maratas, bagged 100,000 pesos and a trophy. The group has also proven that their school is still the team-to-beat in the robotics tilt.
Returning after a five-year hiatus, Tagisang Robotics gathered some of the brightest and most tech-savvy high school students in an intense but friendly basketball-type robotics game. This after its previous runs had football from 2011 to 2014. Capturing the creativity and team spirit of young Filipinos, the 2019 competition featured robots shooting sepak takraw balls in a trajectory towards the goal.
However, Pitogo HS failed to advance to the final round for a chance to win Best Alliance, where the fourth-ranked pairing of Malabon National High School and Caloocan National Science High School shocked the top three groups to emerge victorious and bring home 150,000 pesos.
The top four teams after the eliminations, namely Pitogo HS, Rizal HS, Makati HS and Malabon NHS, earned the incentive to choose their alliance member from schools ranked fifth to last. During the draft, the teams chose Rizal NHS, Senator Renato “Compañero” Cayetano Memorial Science and Technology HS, Valenzuela School of Math and Science, and Caloocan NSHS, respectively.
The four pairings battled in the semifinals to secure slots in the finals, which was eventually won by the Caloocan NSHS team made up of students Lance Chrysler De Jesus, Andrei Rouiz Pascual, Danna Mae Ermino, and Louise Gwen Pascual and Malabon NHS represented by students John Adrian Cruz, Ana Jireh Mabulac, Lee Ann Domingo, and Wendell Cabuello.
Pitogo HS coach Florante Ferrer also won 30,000 pesos while the winning alliance coaches, Rex Mendel Capili of Caloocan NSHS and Franco Mendoza, Jr. of Malabon NHS, got 15,000 pesos each.
The other semifinalists in the varsity-type robotics competition are Bangkal HS, Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino HS, Manila Science HS, Marcelo H. del Pilar National HS, Muntinlupa National HS-Main Campus, Pasig City Science HS, Philippine Science HS-Main Campus, and Taguig Science High School.
Each team, which is composed of two female and two male HS students and one teacher-coach, went through seven elimination matches to determine which schools will advance to the next round.
The 2019 Tagisang Robotics kicked off last September with a five-day Technical Training and Workshop and Game Reveal. Kits containing robot parts were distributed to the teams during the training. They were given two months to design and build robots that could withstand the challenges in the playing field and would be able to shoot as many balls as they can to win.
DOST-SEI brought back Tagisang Robotics to strengthen its promotion of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as it aims to enhance the students’ skills in designing and building robots as well as encourage them to think out-of-the-box solutions on challenges posed before them. Through the competition, the institute hopes that this will encourage them to take up STEM courses in college, especially as the need for robotics skills are advantageous in many industries.
DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo shared that she is pleased with the return of Tagisang Robotics, as the challenges they have faced as organizers are more complicated than in the previous years. “We felt like it’s high time for us to bring back this competition given that we are facing many changes in our industries. We don’t want our students unprepared and unfit when they enter the workforce,” she said.
“We’re striving to develop a strong pool of STEM professionals because that’s our weapon towards development. We need highly trained people in our current industries, and we need people to develop new industries, and we believe we’re doing the right step through this competition,” she added.
Aside from spearheading the DOST scholarships, the institute also implements training for science and mathematics teachers and science promotion programs for the youth.