The 2011 National Schools and Colleges Micromouse competition took place on Saturday 25th June as part of the TechFest event at the Technology Innovation Centre in Birmingham. After several years of male domination it was encouraging to see a strong female challenge by the girls of Central C of E School, Chichester and Wycombe High School. Indeed, the best all-round performance of the day came from Wycombe High School pupil Katharine Puttick, who won prizes in three different categories.
A total of six schools sent teams or individuals this year. The number of competitors in each event was the highest since the event moved to Birmingham. Fifteen mice were entered in the line follower class, thirteen wall followers battled it out and ten drag racers made the starting line. Three primary schools were represented, each taking home one of the event trophies, a very encouraging sign for the future.
Contact and non-contact wall-following mice compete in the same category in the Schools’ competition. Non-contact followers were again in evidence but this was the first year that these mice have dominated the contact followers in the schools event. Two closely matched and very smooth running mice constructed by Katharine Puttick and Anna Jenkins of Wycombe High school effortlessly negotiated a challenging maze. As ever the competitors appreciated being permitted to run their followers in a full-sized maze and also have their trophies and certificates presented in the main theatre.
Whitley Abbey School, Coventry pupil Stephen Pithouse put up the individual performance of the day with his line follower Cheesy Peesy, which tore round the track in 18 seconds for an astonishing new lap record. To put this time into context, the winner of the adult competition on the same track clocked 37 seconds!
With the sheer number of mice present it was inevitable that there would be a few disasters among the triumphs. Detached wires, wiped microcontrollers, flat batteries and broken drive trains made their unwelcome appearance for several competitors. However the judges were impressed by the resolve and poise of the children under pressure and most of the misfiring mice were patched up in time for their events.
Particularly pleasing this year was the broad spread of prize winners amongst the teams with every school taking home at least one prize and no school totally dominating, as had been the case in previous years.
The schools events were again conducted with military precision by Duncan Louttit who also donated the trophies. Thanks are also due to the staff and parents who accompanied the boys and girls to the competition and to Tony Wilcox and his team for the excellent facilities.
Best Documented Mouse: “Blinky”, Katharine Puttick, Wycombe High School
Lightest Mouse: 68g, “CRL101”,Lucy Styles-Forsyth, Central Cof E Junior School Chichester
Judges’ Award 1: Samuel Houghton, Burbage Primary, Buxton.
Samuel’s drag racer “Lego Car” stopped an agonising 5 cm from the finishing line in the semi-final, robbing him of a place in the final.
Judges’ Award 2: Kieran Roscoe, John Hampden Grammar School
The judges were impressed with the Kieran’s dogged determination having spent all day attempting to rebuild his faltering mouse.
Judges’ Award 3: Dasuni Leelasana, Wycombe High School
Dasuni managed to transplant a complete motor gearbox from her line follower to her wall follower and still compete strongly in both events.
1st Place: “X-Streamliner”, Alasdair Hutchinson, John Hampden GS. (11.38 seconds)
2nd Place: “Ravenia”, Themis Spyrou, Gayhurst School, Gerrards Cross. (17.58 seconds)
3rd Place: “Sensor”, Matthew Foord, John Hampden Grammar School. (18.33 seconds)
1st Place: “Cheesy Peesy”, Stephen Pithouse, Whitley Abbey School, Coventry. (18 seconds)
2nd Place: “Blinky”, Katharine Puttick, Wycombe High School. (54 seconds)
3rd Place: “Tom”, Anthony Jones, John Hampden GS. (81 seconds)
1st Place: “Sarnie”, Katharine Puttick, Wycombe High School. (32.17 seconds)
2nd Place: “Pipsqueak”, Anna Jenkins, Wycombe High School. (32.63 seconds)
3rd Place: “Spitfire”, Christopher Hoyland, John Hampden GS. (37.81 seconds)
My thanks to Bernard Grabowski for preparing this report.