Robots may–or may not–someday rule the world. In the meantime, designing and operating them for crowd-pleasing competition provide multifaceted and high-value learning for high school students.
District 214 students have been demonstrating that for 28 years through the District’s award-winning WildStang Robotics teams. The common thread of each year’s competition is that students and professional engineering mentors build robots: big robots, up to 6 feet tall and 150 pounds. Students design, fabricate and program these robots with the ability to move around on a playing surface, pick up objects with their arms and score by dropping the objects into a goal. Each year, competition organizers unveil a new challenge, which means that each year’s team must begin its work from square one.
Mark Koch, a retired District 214 teacher who now serves as program coordinator, said: “Of 75 kids in the program, I’d say two-thirds want to go into a career in science or engineering or technology of some kind. About one third say, ‘I love this (WildStang work). And I want to be an English major.’” Regardless of their career goals, WildStang team members represent student effort and learning at their best. “They’re self-motivated. They’re inquisitive. They’re bright,” Koch said of the students.
The WildStang Team began during the 1995-96 school year as a partnership between Motorola Solutions and Wheeling and Rolling Meadows high schools. The WildStang name was selected by students as a mashup of the Wheeling Wildcats and the Rolling Meadows Mustangs. Today, District 214 students from all six comprehensive high schools compete, and the effort is still sponsored, in part, by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.
Go to the the WildStang Robotics Program website for the latest in WildStang information and upcoming events.
Go to the District 214 Academic Programs and Pathways Guidebook to pages 319 and 320 to review the Robotics 1, 2, 3, and 4 course offerings - students must apply to participate in WildStang FIRST.