Members of High School District 214’s award-winning WildStang robotics team happily set up shop at MacArthur Middle School in Prospect Heights in February, getting to work in what will become their new headquarters.
Through a new partnership celebrated at a February 19 open house, the team will use eight rooms at MacArthur to create, build and innovate, and also will mentor MacArthur middle school students interested in the STEM fields.
“We are enabling middle school students to see robotics up close, to build and to think critically and to think big,” District 214 Superintendent Dr. David R. Schuler told a standing-room-only crowd at the partnership celebration, as a student-built robot sat in the background for demonstrations. “In District 214, and I know in District 23, we believe in partnerships that strengthen our schools and allow us to deliver the most relevant and innovative education to our students, so they are prepared for futures that we can’;t even yet imagine. This is another step in that direction, and we couldn’t be more grateful to District 23 for making this a reality.”
For many years, WildStang worked out of Motorola Solutions, which also provided mentors. More recently, the group was moved to District 214’s Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights amid changes at Motorola’s Schaumburg campus. The District 23 partnership offered the promise of more room -- and the ability to influence even more student passions.
Through the new partnership, MacArthur will house the team’s practice and building space, and MacArthur eighth-graders can participate in and earn early high school robotics credit through the WildStang program. It’s a first-of-its-kind program in both school districts, and Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 Superintendent Debbie Wilson said she is inspired by the promise it holds.
“As educators, it is our job to continually be looking for opportunities like this one, that expose our students to hands-on learning in fields with tangible career opportunities, so they can discover passions and talent early-on,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for all of us.”
WildStang was founded in 1996, comprising students from Wheeling and Rolling Meadows high schools. It now includes about 70 students annually from all District 214 schools, and continues to grow. The team has achieved significant success, winning three world championships and gaining entry into the FIRST Robotics Hall of Fame. Students on the team work together, under the guidance of coaches and professional mentors, to fashion robots that can complete specific mechanical tasks assigned to them for competitions annually.
And though data suggests the need demand for engineers will grow tremendously in the next decade, it’s not just about creating more scientists. WildStang graduates go on to study and succeed in everything from engineering and computer science to business, finance, journalism and education.
“They have an incredible history of success, and the partnership created today will only help that legacy continue to grow,” District 214 Board President Alva J. Kreutzer said at the celebration. “I’m thrilled to be here today, working with another school district whose students will someday become District 214 students, to create more space for all our students to work and build and learn.”
The team, in its trademark tie-dye t-shirts, worked busily at MacArthur in advance of the open house celebration, with competition season in full swing. The space soon will be updated and renovated with furniture and fixtures that can be moved and repositioned to allow maximum work and educational space.
The team and the new partnership have received financial support from Bosch, Bosch/Rexroth, the Bosch Community Foundation, the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, Motorola Solutions, Northrop Grumman and the Technology and Manufacturing Partnership. More funding opportunities are available to help WildStang and the partnership grow. For more information, contact Dan Weidner at 847-718-7696.