By Bernard Grabowski
The 2009 National Schools and Colleges Micromouse competition took place on Saturday 27th June at the Technology Innovation Centre in Birmingham. The team from John Hampden Grammar School were once again strongly represented. They have dominated the event for several years but this time were pushed to the limit by teams from three debuting schools. Competition was intense and new event best times were recorded. The existing drag race record (2.132 seconds, set last year by the team from Singapore) was smashed several times and now stands at an incredible 1.699 sec. The track is just less than 7m in length and the mouse had to stop under control within 1m beyond the finish line. Peak acceleration must now be around 1g in this event and braking has to start at just past the halfway mark.
St Mary’s High School from Downpatrick, Northern Ireland travelled furthest on the day. This all-girls non-selective school have a thriving after school electronics club run by dedicated and knowledgeable staff and notable for the enthusiasm of the girls and the high quality of their mice.
Another dedicated and competitive team travelled up from Surrey. St Andrews Catholic School from Leatherhead were represented by their computer club which is very strong in the fields of robotics and animation. As would be expected, they focused on software and made good use of kits for the hardware of their entries.
Special mention should be made of two schools which sent a single entrant to the competition. Highcrest Community School in High Wycombe was represented by Emma Englefield who constructed a fine drag racer as part of her GCSE Design and Technology studies. Gayhurst School from Gerrards Cross sent Thermis Spyrou to compete in two events. It is very rare for a primary school pupil to compete at this level and Thermis beat several much older pupils.
This was the first occasion for some years when the schools wall follower event final was held in the senior maze arena. This was an excellent move by the organisers as many youngsters stayed to watch the senior events and would have gone home determined to return next year with a better mouse and maybe even one day show the older generation how it should be done!
The event was superbly supervised on the day 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.
Lightest Mouse: 155g, Valkyrie (Contact wall-follower) Chris Field, John Hampden GS.
Judges’ Award 1: Alexandra Mooney/Shaleen O’Neill, St Mary’s High School.
The girls unfortunately prepared their mouse for the discontinued F3 event!
Judges’ Award 2: Amar Kang, John Hampden GS.
Amar had very fast drag racer times in practice but suffered from very bad luck in the competition.
Judges’ Award 3: Ben White, St Andrews School.
For triumph over adversity. Ben had to spend a long time totally reprogramming his mouse for the line follower event.
1st Place: Thrasher, Adam Humphries/Elliot Hitchcock, John Hampden GS. (1.699 seconds).
2nd Place: B.O.B Racer, Jalal Sajan/Nathan Turner, John Hampden GS.
3rd Place: Roadzilla, Emma Englefield, Highcrest Community School.
1st Place: Flash, Thomas Rebour, John Hampden GS. 29.007 seconds.
2nd Place: Pas, Thermis Spyrou, Gayhurst School, 33.004 seconds.
3rd Place: Wee, Olivia McCoubrey/Ieva Zalyte, St Mary’s High School, 48.313 seconds.
1st Place: Valkyrie, Chris Field, John Hampden GS.
2nd Place: Maze Monster, Thermis Spyrou, Gayhurst School.
3rd Place: Ben, Ben White, St Andrews School.
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Congratulations to Ben White for his two awards in this national competition. We will follow his progress in the world of computer animation and robotics with great interest.
Well done Ben.