Birmingham Techfest 2012 Schools Events

By | June 18, 2012

The 2012 National Schools and Colleges Micromouse competition took place on Saturday 16th June as part of the TechFest event at the Technology Innovation Centre in Birmingham. Good numbers of competitors in each event guaranteed keen competition amongst the ever-enthusiastic juniors and it was pleasing to see the trophies spread amongst several schools.

Seven mice were entered in the line follower class, sixteen wall followers competed, of which five were the non-contact type, and six drag racers made the start line.  The overall standard of construction was better than ever, with surface mount components featuring on several competitor’s PCBs for the first time this year.  An innovative feature of the Wycombe high School mice was that, with the switching around of sensors, they were capable of competing in three different events.

Whitley Abbey School, Coventry pupil Stephen Pithouse was undoubtedly the star of the show.  He has been very dominant in recent competitions and specialises in embarrassing the seniors with the performances he gets out of his beautifully constructed mice.  He won the Schools line follower event with a time only 1.5 seconds slower than the senior champion but, even more impressively, he won the Schools wall follower event in a time several seconds faster that the best senior could manage in the same maze.  According to Stephen, this is his last year as a junior and he intends to enter the senior events next year.  The sky’s the limit for this impressive young man.  We look forward to his future success and wish him well in his efforts to obtain a place at a top university.

Another “junior beats seniors” story unfolded at the MiniSumo event.  This contest involves two robots placed in a raised ring and trying to push each other over the edge.  Competing for the first time with her self-built robot “Mouselympic”, Wycombe High School pupil Thabooja Sathiapal put the adults to shame when she triumphed in the round-robin contest where each competitor has to compete with every other in a best of three bouts contest.  The design of her robot will be published on the MiniSumo website (www.minisumo.org.uk) and it is hoped that this thrilling event could be added to the official Schools Micromouse event list in the future.

Josie Godfrey of Wycombe High School managed to obtain runner-up position in three separate events.  This success was all the more remarkable because it was achieved with the same mouse!  This feat has never been achieved before by any competitor.

For the first time in several years there was no outright favourite for the Schools Drag Race.  Alasdair Hutchinson, the John Hampden Grammar School pupil who had dominated the event for the last two years competed again but had trouble keeping his mouse, “X-Streamliner”, on the central white line.  In practice, he had posted legal times of around 2 seconds but, in the competition, incurred a five second penalty for touching the side of the track each time.  His opposition came from Wycombe High School who had four entries, all of which could complete the course in around 7 seconds with no penalties.  It made for an exciting contest.  In the head-to-head finals, it proved that the competitor’s reaction time in responding to the “traffic light” start system made all the difference, with several contests settled by a difference of less than 0.2 seconds.  In the final Alasdair prevailed – just!  He was pushed hard by Thabooja Sathiapal of Wycombe High School who trailed by a mere 0.05 seconds with her mouse “Cheesy”.

Once again thanks are due to Duncan Louttit who ran all the Schools events also donated the trophies.  Thanks are also due to the Team from Rapid (www.rapidonline.com) who were present at the event this year and generously donated four £25 vouchers as prizes for the event winners.  These were awarded as follows:

Stephen Pithouse – Line follower champion and Wall follower champion (2 awards)

Alasdair Hutchinson – Drag race champion

Thabooja Sathiapal – Sumo champion

Finally special thanks to staff and parents who accompanied the boys and girls to the competition and to Tony Wilcox and his team for providing us with such excellent facilities.

RESULTS

Best Documented Mouse:  “Flashy”, Stephen Pithouse, Whitley Academy

Lightest Mouse:  108g, “Scamper”, Josie Godfrey, Wycombe High School

Judges’ Award 1:  Sam Philpott, John Hampden Grammar School

Sam’s contact wall follower had been performing well in practice prior to the big event, but an unrecoverable gearbox failure robbed him of a place in the final.

Judges’ Award 2:  Alex Clifton, John Hampden Grammar School

In the schools event no distinction is made between contact and non-contact wall followers in the award of the best wall follower trophy.  Alex had the best time amongst all the contact wall followers and the Judges thought that his efforts earned a special award.

Judges’ Award 3:  Thabooja Sathiapal, Wycombe High School

Although MiniSumo is not an official Schools Micromouse event, a number of juniors entered this year and Thabooja’s entry “Mouselympic” was the best amongst them over a taxing contest of best-of-three, where every robot competes against every other.

DRAG RACE

1st Place:  “X-Streamliner”, Alasdair Hutchinson, John Hampden GS.  (7.05 seconds)
2nd Place:  “Cheesy”, Thabooja Sathiapal, Wycombe High School.  (7.10 seconds)
3rd Place:  “Scamper”, Josie Godfrey, Wycombe High School.  (7.19 seconds)

LINE FOLLOWER

1st Place:  “Mr Squeak”, Stephen Pithouse, Whitley Abbey School, Coventry.  (17.81 seconds)
2nd Place:  “Scamper”, Josie Godfrey, Wycombe High School.  (19.47 seconds)
3rd Place:  “Mouskateer”, Sarah Abrahams, Wycombe High School.  (25.87 seconds)

WALL FOLLOWER

1st Place:  “Flashy”, Stephen Pithouse, Whitley Abbey School, Coventry.
2nd Place:  “Scamper”, Josie Godfrey, Wycombe High School.
3rd Place:  “Cheesy”, Thabooja Sathiapal, Wycombe High School.

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