Cebu Steam Cup 2019… Lego and lots of Lego going to the North using your Compass

Cebu Steam Cup is a yearly competition between schools to show skill in computer programming. This is a 3 day event and final day was held last November 10, 2019 in Robinson’s Galleria Cebu.

My wife was requested to be a judge in one of the categories. Alliance Software where she is currently employed is one of the sponsors. Naturally me and my daughter tag along.

We arrive just a little bit past 10 am. The location was packed. Most of the contestants are still preparing and finalizing their contest entry.

The contest was all about technology and how they affect our lives. There are various categories that each contestant (or group of) can join. Contestants also range from preschool to college students. Contest piece for each category could be a robot or a smart gadget or combination of both except the Sumobot which should be a robot.

  • Environment
  • Disaster and recover
  • Sumobot

The contest pieces was implemented mainly from kit platforms.

  • Arduion Uno
  • Lego Mindstorm EV3
  • MakeBlock

The robots were mostly implemented from kits which are nice since they obfuscate the user from dealing with the mechanics and electronics in building a robot. Using kits makes you focus on the software.

The Smart Gadgets were also implemented using off the shelf sensor kits. I noticed most of them are using almost the same set of sensors SOC, so I am guessing this is some sort of Arduino Educational Kit.

I have my fair share of building robots and gadgets during college days, we did not have those kits. Our development time was being wrestled between figuring out the mechanics and implementing the software. We did not even have the slightest idea about project management. A simple iteration would probably be started with Beer and ends with a well deserved breakfast after the sleepless night. Having the kits around for development is really on the right direction.

My interest was focused on the Sumobot, The objective was just simple and straight forward each robot will try to push each other out of the Sumo Arena, which was Black bordered with White Circle Ring. The robots are not remotely controlled so the robosts should be programmed on how and what to do with sensor event, translating them to a winning or a loosing action. A winning move for a small robot against a bigger robot could mean moving back a little to gain momentum before pushing forward all out. A sensor data could also save the robot about to be pushed to the edge by doing a side sweep motion. A losing move would mean running and going out of the ring without noticing the sensor was triggered by the white border.

My daughter was interested with the Lego entries that gets to move by some input or user action. She was already interested to the idea of software programming since the last time we watched a show from Netflix about technology.. My daughter was stuck to the idea that only 1% of the population know how to program. She was asking me and wife if we know how to program.

Darling that is what we do everyday so that we can feed you. Software provides a solution of some sort to a certain problem. So if you want to learn we can teach you but first you should tell us want is the first software you want to make and what problem does this software want to solve.

Many kids which are the same grade of my daughter (she is 9 yrs old) join the contest. Most of their platform is Lego Mindstorm EV3. This platform is really great. Kids likes to make, to build and kids really like Lego. With Lego Mindstorm kids get to build and program visually for their creation to have some sort interaction. The control unit, motors, batteries and sensors that comes with Mindstorm is packed in a the familiar Lego system we all like. I like Lego and who does not like it anyway.

The kids that joined the event were actually students from Compass. A school which teaches kids programming using the Lego Mindstorm platform.

Teacher Bess one of the teachers from Compass was kind enough to assist my kid in what she was making, considering they are starting to clean and pack up. We got a conversation running on the school’s platform and the teaching methods. They not only assist the kids to do the instructions from the Lego app, but they also teach the basics about the gears and the mechanics. The package that fits my daughter’s age is the priced at 4750 Php for 10 sessions and about an hour each session. There are also Saturday sessions, so this is really great. We are considering that this could be a good start so we will being giving them a visit soon.