14 What I learned from Piwars Prep – Reflection time !!! #2

Being 7 years of age, makes me the youngest member of the team. So here are some of my takeaways. Prior to Piwars, I would only speak to my classmates in school. Piwars practise helped me speak to older children at the Brainiacs Innovation Hub. This has helped boost my confidence, express myself better and expand on my ‘network’. Hurray!

I learnt no question is too silly…you know what, I was excited to find out some of my team members and even coach actually learnt from my ‘silly questions’. It was a good to see others learnt from me too.

Another one from Piwars ….prioritise activities. I now start with easiest task first to gain my confidence and gain some mileage and do the more difficult later. Now I apply this approach for my school work too; and it really helps…Thank you Piwars!

by Muhammad al-Amin Musa


Brainiacs PiWars2019 Blog…

The Journey Begins

Finally, the news is in, we have been selected to compete in Pi Wars 2019, Cambridge, UK.   Hipeee!!!!  A sunny start to the day, can’t agree more. There are six of us in the team and we have been tasked to build Raspberry Pi-controlled robots to compete in various space themed non-destructive challenges….. I wonder what they mean by non- destructive. Our coach proceeds to explain. He said “You are all going to Cambridge to compete, you are ambassadors of Nigeria… “ My thoughts trail off….Still stuck on the ”non-destructive”. Do we set off a rocket to blast a structure to collapse but not destroy it completely? I wonder.  I quickly wake up from my trance to hear him ask” How many challenges are there in total?”

My team shouts out in unison “7!, 3 Autonomous and 4 Remote Controlled challenges” He interrogates us further by asking why the competition is space themed. Someone shouts out   “ To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first moon landing, Apollo 50”. …Hmmm, note to self, the bookish one speaks!!!! But the mention of Apollo 50, moon landing, I am thinking space exploration, NASA, my excitement has been triggered. #NASA #Apollo…. We finish up our first team meeting by going through the various challenges. I am definitely paying attention now…  #Piwars2019 #Brainiacs #Nigeria

16 More problems with over-heating Raspberry Pi

It was all rolling smoothly and we had chance to practice the remote controlled challenges with the robots. All of a sudden the vehicle stopped and again our pi was overheating. Our coach had suggested that the high temperature in our environment in addition to no place to put additional cooling may have attributed to the problem.

Robot ready to roll

We also noticed that our motor driver was coming up and down. We had to regroup and tell ourselves that we cannot give up at this stage. Our coach helped us troubleshoot to confirm what was wrong. He confirmed that the raspberry Pi and motor controller need to be replaced. We had to dig into our pockets with support of our parents to buy another Pi and a motor  e reaffirm our zeal to partake in the competition by painstakingly going to get new raspberry pi and a motor driver to fix the problem.

Thanks to backups of the code we had written we were able to bring the robot back in shape and have time to prepare to kick off the lengthy practice session scheduled for tomorrow. Now we have the robot working, we can practice and now we have Nerf gun to complete.

It’s been a long journey but we have learned a lot on finding problems, teamwork, and communication.

15 Reflection time: #3

During Piwars, I learnt to get organised and importance of keeping records. Our team has a log book where we record what we plan to achieve during practice, what we achieved,  problems encountered and what to do next. I found this was a good reference point for our design. It also reminds us of all activities that were done in previous practise sessions incase we forgot something.

My coach says scientists and engineers keep logs too. I aspire to become an engineer one day to solve some of the problems I see in my society. 

And last of my take ways is ‘keep your eye on the ball’. To succeed, we stay focused, determined and remain resilient. We had some challenges, we sometimes wondered can we do this? But we were determined, we pressed on and Piwars!!!! here we come. Never give up!

Reflection by Muhammad al-Amin Musa

13 Reflection time #1

As we wind down and gear towards the D-day, its reflection time! We all got together to talk about one key takeaway from the Piwars training.

Guess what? We had loads! every one had something to say. Well that was a first. So we took turns:

Piwars made it possible for my team and I to build and program a robot from scratch. Wow..Its humbling, it made me reflect, how many children from my country have this opportunity? I am truly thankful to have experienced this unique opportunity.

Aaaahhaa Moment – Let there be light

Time management and teamwork were two big ones. Practice time always flies. So we had to devise a way to manage time to achieve our target for the day. We only have practice on Saturdays. If you  have lived in Lagos, you would know that we couldn’t all be able to make it to the hub for practice on a school day because of one word we are all familiar with; the all dreaded Lagos ‘traffic’. How did we manage this?  During training, we made a time table to allocate time for each activity. We had a time keeper to prompt us thereby ensuring we meet our target as planned.

Two members of Team Brainiacs holding the assembled MBOT

This is reflection by Muhammad al-Amin Musa

12 Looking Good.

Discussion was based on “What, to wear?” The “retro” look for the robot. Finalising our logistics, outstanding visas/passports amongst others. A final check on which challenges we will be participating in. 

But note this, Cambridge, we, Nigerians are coming. Question is, are you ready? #PiWars2019 #Brainiacs #Nigeria.  See you in Cambridge….bye for now. In my language, we say, ‘O dabọ” (Yoruba),‘sai wata rana’ (Hausa),‘Ka ọ dị’  (Igbo). 

11. Four becomes three…

Finally, we get back to training. Yipee! However, there are only 3 of us now. Apparently, our old team mate had an unplanned family commitment. Hence, he won’t be able to travel to Cambridge to participate. We still had loads of work to complete, so we soldiered on. 

The 4tronix robot was moving forward when instructed to move “backwards”. We later resolved the issue, apparently, one of us had mistakenly flipped the switches when trying to figure out why the motors weren’t working.

Brainiacs 4tronix initio robot

The DiddyBorg, wasn’t responding to instructions either. We later discovered that one of the motors was getting rusty! Literally. We proposed to change the faulty part.

We asked our younger siblings to “test drive” the robots for us. They happily obliged.