By LESLIE HUENKE
On Saturday, Dec. 14, Lutheran High hosted the “Roboteer Rumble,” a robot competition attended by 12 different schools from across the state.
Each team produced a robot to compete in a stacking game involving LEGO bricks.
“The Roboteer Rumble event is a great example of how the STEM and robotics programs at LHS have grown to serve not only our Lutheran school community, but also the greater robotics community across Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois,” said Dave Zilz, director of robotics at Lutheran High. “It’s amazing to consider how this program has grown from only five students and a few adult mentors in 2012 to a multi-level, multi-year K-12 STEM pipeline built around the FIRST robotics progression of programs and STEM outreach events. The addition of our new STEM lab and robotics facilities at LHS, combined with the offering of three new engineering classes has taken our program to a whole new level.”
Zilz also is the creator of the nonprofit Stem2U Youth Programs alongside Kevin Sheck. Stem2U promotes interest in science, technology, engineering and math in kindergarten through grade 12 students by creating innovative programs in the classroom.
Robotics has become a very popular interest at Lutheran High. A few years ago, the students who participated in robotics wanted a larger space. The students wrote a proposal to move their space to the old weight room. They sent out a huge survey and were amazed at how many people wanted a new STEM lab as well as engineering classes added to the curriculum. The project was approved and the school added new engineering classes in 2018. After a very successful trial run, the school also added an aerodynamics class.
“Participating in extracurricular activities, like sports and various artistic pursuits, has always been a core aspect of my life; my time in high school was no exception,” said Emily Sheck, former Lutheran High student and robotics team member. “The experiences I had through robotics gave me more opportunities to improve my leadership, problem solving and communication skills than I ever encountered through athletics or the arts. To be challenged in such a way, and so early on in my life, not only further developed my interest in STEM fields, but it inspired me to push myself beyond my previously established capabilities.”
Last year, the Roboteers qualified for the Worlds Competition in Detroit and won the Chairman’s Award. They’re looking forward to making STEM more readily available in the community.