If you owned a Lego set growing up, you probably have fond memories of building colorful houses, planes, or cars. (Of course, odds are you’re also familiar with the indescribable pain of stepping on a stray Lego brick.)

But what if you could use Lego to turn your creativity into solutions to real-world problems? Even better, what if you could do so while demonstrating Pinoy ingenuity to the rest of the world (and winning awards as well)?

That’s what the Philippine Robotics National Team did at the recently concluded For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Lego League World Championship.

Held in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. from April 15 to 21, the so-called “world’s largest celebration of STEM for students” gathered 109 teams that made it through the qualifying rounds and challenged them to develop innovative ways to conquer the problems plaguing today’s astronauts.

This year, the Philippines sent the two teams that emerged victorious from the 8th FIRST Lego League (FLL) Philippines tourney.

Creative concepts that “click”

DYCI Blue Ocean’s 10 from Dr. Yanga’s College Inc. (Ages 12-17) included team members Jocas Arabella Cruz, Abigail Silva, Denise Carpio, Naiah Nicole Mendoza, Raingel Vryse Mendoza, Rodel Christian Alcantara, Ma. Anne Geline Doneth Dela Rama, Paul Jaren Perez, and Lara Monique Narciso. They operated under the supervision of Head Coach Beryl Jhan Cruz and Assistant Coach Lemuel Francisco.

The team participated in the INTO ORBIT challenge, which involved findings ways to get around the physical and social problems that come with long-duration space flight. Their entry, called “Project Fuse,” uses live virtual reality video chat integrated into a robot to enable astronauts in outer space to connect with their earthbound loved ones.

As a result, the team beat 109 other teams from 74 countries, and was recognized as the Champion’s Award Finalist.

From left:  FELTA Multi-Media CEO Mylene Abiva poses with the DYCI Blue Ocean’s 10 team. (Photo: FELTA)

Meanwhile, Team CYLLO from De La Salle Zobel (ages 6-12) was composed of Zoie Francesca Aldave, Chito Salunga Roxas, Jr., Franc Andre Dimatatac, Eduardo Matteo Valdez, Emmanuel Jace Savellano, and Robert Philip Lim. They were accompanied by Head Coach Heinz Elorde and Assistant Coach Genevieve Pillar.

The team took on the MISSION MOON Junior League challenge, which focused on the requirements to survive on Earth’s satellite. Team CYLLO designed a cyanobacteria-sustaining robot to help solve the issue of food and oxygen availability for astronauts. Their project won them the Explore and Discover Award, besting teams from 43 other countries.

From left: Abiva stands proudly with Team CYLLO from De La Salle Zobel. (Photo: FELTA)

Bot-building brilliance

“The Philippines holds the Champion Award center stage in International Robotics and will continue to excel and showcase the brilliance of the Filipino Youth,” according to Mylene Abiva, National Organizer of the Philippine Robotics Olympiad/FLL Philippines and the sole World Robot Olympiad Ambassador.

Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) Director Dr. Josette Biyo also congratulated the team, and believes that this will inspire other young Filipinos to get into robotics. “This victory further motivates us at DOST-SEI to continue supporting our emerging robotics experts,” Dr. Biyo stated.

After a quick breather, the Philippine Robotics National Team will fly to Turkey for the FLL European Open Championship, happening on May 20-27.

Cover photo: FELTA


Author: Mikael Angelo Francisco

Bitten by the science writing bug, Mikael has years of writing and editorial experience under his belt. As the editor-in-chief of FlipScience, Mikael has sworn to help make science more fun and interesting for geeky readers and casual audiences alike.