District 211 students experience robotics firsthand

 
 
Updated 2/8/2011 11:51 AM

Students at Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 had some fun with robotics last week, thanks to an opportunity provided by some local manufacturing businesses.

About 60 students from District 211's five high schools took a field trip on Thursday, Sept. 16, to the International Manufacturing Technology Show at McCormick Place in Chicago. The IMTS brings together more than 82,000 visitors from 116 countries showcasing the latest technology and methods for manufacturing. This was the first time District 211 students attended the event, but it could become a regular part of the curriculum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Admission for the event costs about $100 per person. However, Hoffman Estates Director of Economic Development Gary Skoog helped work to bring in Amada America Inc., Big Kaiser, Feisomat, Methode Electronics, Mori Seiki and Quality Float Works to sponsor the students.

Schaumburg High School Career Advisor Diane Weaver said the event gave students a glimpse of how the manufacturing industry works. Many times, she said, the industry is unfairly portrayed only as "greasy sweatshops."

Weaver attended the show with her career advisers from the other District 211 schools. They routinely take field trips, called career treks, to help motivate students and perhaps get them interested in a specific profession.

"We're helping high school students explore careers," Weaver said.

The highlight was seeing a robotic arm sort a batch of M&M'S candies by color.

"It's amazing what robots can sense and do," Weaver said.

Some students may be galvanized by the field trips, others may not. But at least they're making a decision using actual experiences, Weaver said. The companies also paid for bus transport to Chicago, Weaver said.