Arcadia, G-E-T, Whitehall, other area school districts get thousands from Ashley to ratchet up robotics education

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Staffers and students in the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District display enlarged check depicting their donation from Ashley for STEM programs. (Ashley photo)

ARCADIA, Wis. (WKBT) – Students in several school districts near Ashley Furniture Industries’ advanced manufacturing facilities, including several in western Wisconsin, can up their robotics games with grants from the Arcadia-based company.

Badger State school districts getting grants from the more than $144,000 of total donations include Arcadia, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan, Black River Falls, Cochrane-Fountain City, Eleva-Strum School, Pepin Area Schools, Whitehall, Mondovi, Cornell and Independence, as well as St. Mark Lutheran School.

Grants were awarded based on schools’ overall strategy for incorporating robotics into K-12 classroom curriculum or extra-curricular competition programs, according to an Ashley news release.

The donations will allow schools to buy VEX Robotics equipment to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). K-12 students will be able to design and build their own robots with snap-together pieces, then watch their creations come to life as they apply the basic principles of programming to their robots.

“This donation allows us to upgrade our equipment and increase the number of students we can offer this program to,” said John Peterson, technology education teacher in the Arcadia district.

“As VEX continues to adapt and change their equipment to better the student’s interest and abilities, it also makes the students excited to learn about robots,” Peterson said. “This excitement sparks an interest in the high-demand career field of automation and mechatronics.”

Ashley President/CEO Todd Wanek said, “STEM education is essential to ensure today’s youth develop critical computational thinking skills needed to succeed in both the 21st century’s workforce and in everyday life.”

In addition, robotics also teaches students creativity, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills, which is why we are proud to have donated more than $400,000 to robotics education across the country since 2017,” Wanek said.

VEX Robotics is a leading provider of educational and competitive robotics products to schools around the world. With multiple lines of equipment for different grade levels, the platform provides a streamlined approach to offer robotics education on all levels of a school district.

VEX Robotics equipment also is used for extracurricular competition programs in which students design and build robots to play with other teams in a game-based engineering challenge.

Other schools that received Ashley robotics donations this year are in the state of Mississippi.

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