As of December 2020, I have been working out for about three months now. I would say I have made some decent progress specifically with building my pull strength to do a pullup. Pullups have been something I have always struggled with all in all as I have always had a weak back. Since I used to play basketball, my coaches would always focus mainly on endurance and push strength to be able to play against bigger players. Focusing on mostly pushups, that was something I was pretty good at which made me neglect my back as a whole.
After a couple months of training, I was able to progress to consecutively doing 6-8 pullups in a row which to me is an achievement considering I could barely do a single one in the beginning.
As for the progression of the current weight I am pushing, I have seem to hit a plateau still maxing my squat at 70kg and my bench at 55kg. I think the main issue is the inconsistency I have when it comes to going to the gym. Ever since we have broken up for winter break, I have started to slack off and just relax. I still try to get some sort of workout in by doing cardio, whether it is on the treadmill or in the great outdoors, but that’s the extent I will go to. I have lost some body fat and some weight due to my lowered calorie intake and some cardio although I believe I have lost some muscle within that time period too.
As the new school year starts during phase 2 of Singapore’s transition back to normal, we were granted the privilege to go back to school along with the other schools here in Singapore. Of course, as we are still in the middle of a global pandemic there are certain protocols we have to follow to minimize transmission. Being high school students, we are all fairly social, some of us haven’t seen or friends in person for the past 5-6 months, some even longer as some are still stuck in quarantine.
It’s tough not being able to hug friends which we haven’t seen in months, keeping at least a meter between my peers and me, following all these new rules and following them without exception. However, I can’t complain as everyone has to follow these rules, not everyone has the opportunity to go back to school. Many of my cousins back home in the Philippines have their school year postponed until October, some not even knowing when school would start for them again.
Being physically back to school trying to adapt to our new normal is difficult. Simple things which I used to take for granted such as using our secondary school library whenever we wanted and going to our local hawker center for lunch is something we can’t consider anymore. School feels a lot lonelier now with all the distancing and everyone doing their own thing. It is our final year which I think counts the most as it has all of our deadlines which would count to our final grade. It’s scary and with this whole pandemic, we’re all scared things might change even more.
Despite all the things which are happening in the world right now, we’re all trying to make the most of it. We’re all online now so we’re all still talking all day and night. Keeping in touch with friends who cant join us.
After weeks of working on my small sumo robot, I got nowhere because I did not know what I was doing. I got the code imported into my Arduino, built a small box, and connected all the components together but I could just not get the robot itself to work. At this point I was lost and did not what to do. The activity is coming to an end in about 4 weeks which was not enough time to get our robots working. I was not the only one struggling with building our robots, actually, everyone was at the same stage where I was: Everything put together but everything was not working. For sessions upon sessions, we got nowhere, doing nothing because we had no idea what to do until 2 weeks left in the activity our supervisor, Mr. Weaver, gave us a simple programmable and modular robotics kit which we would build. This kit was really simple to build and relatively simple to code compared to starting from scratch. It came with its own software, its own application on your mobile device and it worked.
As seen above, the two videos shows the simplicity of the robotics kit which we used which then we would play with for the remaining sessions. By then it was too late and the season was over. Not much happened afterwards, we gave back the components which we used for our initial sumo robot which none of us were able to make functional, and we went away with our tiny robot which we use for random things like driving around our desk when we’re bored.
If anything, this activity was fun. I have always been interested in robotics and building things since a young age, and this activity was something which reflected that. Even though I was not able to create a functional Sumo Robot from scratch, I was still able to create a small programmable robot which was more fun as it actually worked.
Personally I want to go into engineering, whichever engineering course I take, I will still be building something which I love to do. With the many things I have learnt in this activity, I was even able to learn how to build my own keyboard which I am using to type this reflection right now. As time goes on, I will continue to build things and my next project is to build my own computer which will be used for playing videogames, editing my short films and productivity work.
Going into Sumo Robotics, I was expecting a kit that we would be given, build the kit then make modifications that would help us in the sumo ring. Thinking that this activity was going to be easy that it would be something I could easily breeze through.
Something I was not expecting was learning the basics of coding. We had to completely make the Sumo Robot from scratch, something which was completely new to me. As a child, I was always interested in building robots, legos, and figures but most of them were fairly simple. In this activity, we were given an Arduino (brain – where the code goes) and a pair of servos. We were expected to build a small 10cm by 10cm sumo robot by the end of the 2 seasons and I had absolutely no idea where to start.
How I was able to Overcome the Challenges:
I was previously a DT: Systems and Controls student which was a 2-year course in IGCSE which specialized in Electronics, Structures, and Mechanisms of Design Technology. Coming into this, I had no previous knowledge of how to code or how to read code, therefore, I had to learn the very basics of coding so I could build the robot. When I was learning how to code, I asked for help from our supervisors and we found a code online for free which was easy to read and understand. Using that I was able to just make some small edits to control my servos and to the sensitivity of my sensor.
Now the real challenge of it all was building the body of the robot itself. Prototyping has always been something I have not been great at so I wanted to work on that purely visualize what my final product was going to look like, and practice working with card/cardboard for prototyping.
Currently, I am on the track of completing all my CAS requirements. Although due to this whole epidemic of COVID-19 especially here in Singapore, it has affected my service and activity as we are not allowed to be within a large group of people. Realizing that I might not be able to finish my requirements due to this virus, I am still holding onto what I have done as thinking it will be enough for CAS. My service has changed from being a local service to more of a college service which still meets the requirements so that is all good. On the other hand, my activity which is Basketball within the Filipino community which is weekly is being postponed due to the whole COVID-19 outbreak, it is starting to creep up on me that maybe I might not meet the requirements if this virus lasts a lot longer than I think it will.
At the same time, CAS takes up a lot of my time which leaves me less time to work on everything else such as studying, preparing to start my Extended Essay, starting my IAs for all my subjects and so on. I just need to be more organised in how I set up my schedule so that I can manage everything in IB.
I have always been into building things. Anything from lego, little figures, car models and so on.
In my IGCSE course, I took Systems and Control which is a Design Technology course based around electronics and mechanics. I was never great at it because it has always been hard for me to grasp concepts. Although a hobby of mine has always been something to do with robotics and mechanics. I personally have no experience when it comes to writing code or making a robot from scratch because the closest thing I got to that was using a Lego Mindstorm in middle school. I remember telling myself at the age of 8 that I wanted to be a robotics engineer when I grow up and saving up for 2 years to get a Lego Mindstorm which I never got because I just used the ones we had here at school. That driving force of wanting to become a Robotics Engineer does not exist anymore since I don’t exactly know what my passions are anymore so I am just experimenting with things at the moment.
At the age of 11 I remember I bought my first and only radio controlled car which took me a year of saving up and doing some chores. I loved that thing and played with it every single day after school until one day I decided to take it out on a track which had a lot of ramps and after a few jumps, the front shock towers (suspension) of the car broke due to the material being brittle and slightly old. The car was released in 2004 which means that the RC car had been sitting at the shop for quite a while. I was never able to repair it because I never knew what the part was called or in general, what the chasis model was.
Now, almost 6 years later, I have lost that passion of making things which is why I decided to join the Sumo Robotics club here at school. The club makes little robots which try to push each other out of a ring hence the name Sumo Robotics. I want to see if I can learn some new things and implement it into some future projects I might do. I don’t know how to code and only know the basics of electronics so I want to build my skills on those.
I have not played organised basketball in around 18-20 months because I told myself I quit the sport. Going into this game I was not nervous as all because I had no expectations in terms of how well I will play. Throughout those 18-20 months I have probably done a little shooting around and I remember it being almost impossible for me to make a three point shot.
I remember right before this first game, even before warm up I decided to shoot around a bit and see where my current skill is at. Most of my basic fundamental skills are still there, I can still dribble the ball with my right hand and somewhat with my left, I can make a basic layup, and still do strong passes, but something which takes a lot of technique and practice such as my shooting has gotten a lot worse. Probably after about 10-15 minutes of messing around I randomly made a three pointer which caught me off guard. I guess the natural muscle memory took control and I made 2 more three pointers which really caught me off guard making me gain confidence in my shooting which I have never had.
In the past, I was known as one of the worst shooters. My form has always been off, in general I was just not the best shooter. It always felt forced every time I would shoot the ball rather than letting it flow naturally so that is mainly what messed my shooting up. Due to the long period of time not actually shooting the ball I guess I went back to how I naturally shot with my body mechanics and so on which caused me to actually make 2 in-game shots which were contested. I did in the end miss another 3 shots very badly which caused my dad to tell me to stop.
I also realised I lost a lot of confidence in terms of getting to the basket and trying to make easier shots such as a lay-up or floater which in the end did cost us the game. Most of the game we were up ranging from 5-10 points but towards the end we lost by 2. Our team was split into 3 groups, the amateur/really good players, those who can play the sport for both fun and recreational, and lastly those who just want to play in the league but don’t exactly play the sport. Each group playing for 4 minutes in a quarter which lasted 12 minutes each. Due to myself still being a student playing against older, stronger full grown men, I am put in the lower bracket and the middle bracket. This caused my team heavily relying on me to carry the lower bracket while being a support player in the middle bracket. My team was heavily relying on me to make some valuable shots, due to me being younger, faster and more skilled compared to my on-court teammates. I mainly was a runner to move the ball up during transitions when playing with the middle bracket and I was one of the scorers in the lower bracket. Because I was in the game for 32 minutes out of the 48, and also being the main runner, I was not exactly conditioned to do a lot of short sprints throughout that amount of time. I am mainly a long distance runner so sprints aren’t exactly my thing. By the end of the third quarter, I was struggling to run and by the fourth quarter, I was lying down and walking every opportunity I had. At one point I felt like I was going to faint out of sheer exhaustion.
Since I was in 8th grade, I have been playing for the basketball league my dad has been playing in since I was little. In middle school I used to play a lot of basketball especially in 6th grade where I lived and breathed the sport. As time went on, I started to drop out of the sport as I lost interest and by 9th grade I actually quit the sport. Although my father still signs me up every year for our local basketball league.
This recreational basketball league is mainly just for local filipinos who are looking to play basketball with other filipinos. I honestly find it quite interesting because sometimes my parents introduce me to people who I have never met before but they knew when they were still kids. At the same time the experience of playing against people who are a lot bigger, stronger and definitely a lot better than I am. Actually some of the younger players there are amateur basketball players which I find pretty cool. Since I don’t exactly play basketball anymore except during the part of the year when my dad signs me up for the league, I am not that great as I used to be. With some amateur players being in my team, they teach me a lot about how to play the sport from their perspectives by giving me tips.
The main reason why I stopped playing basketball or any sport in general was due to my mental health dipping which made me lose interest in anything. As someone who was obsessed with basketball, running and playing video-games, I never thought I would stop. It was actually not until the start of this school year is when I started getting back into the groove of things because I am not going to get out of this rut unless I do something about it.
On the very left, is my first year joining Fastbreak Basketball around 6th or 7th grade around when I first started playing basketball. The other 2 images is my first year joining my father’s basketball league in 8th grade when I was old enough to join.