Advance Science, Robotics, Showcased by Island Students

science 01Habele - JUNE 2017
Elaborate cultural dances and seafaring canoes have made the Micronesian Islands of Yap famous, but this month it was the ultra-advanced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills of local students on display.
An annual competition and exhibition organized by Yap Catholic High School drew nearly 200 community members who came to watch and support 70 high school student participants.
Ambitious freshmen students showed off complicated robots designed, built, and refined, over the spring semester. First year students also presented science fair projects completed for their Earth Science course. Sophomores involved with the STEM and Robotics Club ran demonstrations which included sound wave experiments, and tests of strength utilizing complex force sensors.
Upperclassman were not to be outdone. Juniors displayed science fair projects focused on issues directly pertinent to Yap including climate change, erosion, and seawater intrusion. Seniors explained circuitry design and supervised underclassmen’s demonstrations.

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The highlight was a presentation of the Yap Robo Team, headed to Washington, DC to represent the entire Federated States of Micronesia at the FIRST Global Robotics Competition in mid-July. Three Yap Catholic seniors –all stars from last year’s multi school Robo Day competition- have designed, fabricated, and programed a robot to compete in this Olympic-based event. They’ll face stiff competition from over 160 different national teams at the three-day event.
“Every year we encourage the students to push the boundaries further and expand the STEM program even more. This year they absolutely blew it out of the water with their demonstrations and science projects,” explained Principal Michael Wiencek and Science Teacher Devi Gopal. “It is going to be hard to top this next year.”
Since 2011, the STEM and Robotics Program have been financially support by “Habele,” a US-based nonprofit established by former Peace Corps Volunteers. This year, with the unprecedented opportunity -and expenses- of fielding a team for the FIRST Global Competition, individual, corporate, and public sector donors rallied behind the students.
Tim Waters & Associates, JoDoCo Group, Matson, College of Micronesia FSM, and Blue Sky Traders have all made generous contributions to equip, train, and send the team. Yap’s Delegation to the Congress of Micronesia also secured public support through a pair of federal appropriations. A further fifty-two American and Micronesian citizens made personal donations through an online fundraising page.
"We should all be proud of these kids, who’ve been at it since 2011," explained regional newspaper publisher Lee Weber, in a column highlighting the tremendous technical, logistical, and financial obstacles tackled by Yap's Robo League in April. "This is a great opportunity for these young Micronesian students."