The future got a little brighter for youngsters involved in robotics in La Porte this week. On February 21, Horizon Bank presented Riley Elementary School’s robotics team with a $2,595 grant for new equipment and activities that will further cultivate the students’ skills in Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) activities.
“We’re a believer in quality education for the kids in our community, so we were more than happy to help Riley Elementary School with this particular program,” said Steve Kring, Market President for Horizon Bank. “It puts a smile on my face to be here today. We are all for helping kids and promoting education.”
Riley Elementary School’s robotics team began about two years ago, composed of 3rd and 4th graders. Students learn how to code and create and operate the general mechanics of these machines, and they compete about three or four times a year against other elementary teams. During the competitions, teams operate their robots, which are described as small go-karts equipped with cranes, to move items to gain points.
“It’s a fun way to get students to learn new things about the robotics field and to promote healthy competition,” said Chris Alber, Principal of Riley Elementary School. “Overall we are just thrilled and thankful for Horizon Bank and Bert Cook for helping put this together. We are grateful to have a chance to get the students to learn new ways to use their coding and STEM skills.”
This grant’s beginnings could be traced back to when Alber invited Cook, the Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP), to take the role of Principal of Riley Elementary School for a day in late 2019. It was a program through the Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP). Impressed with the students, Cook informed Alber of the opportunity to apply for a grant from Horizon Bank and encouraged them to could come up with some ideas on how to teach kids coding and STEM activities.
“Giving students interactive learning opportunities like these is incredibly exciting and engaging,” Cook said. “It’s a special feeling to come in here and see all the students and see the excitement on their faces. I feel very privileged to be a part of this today.”
The grant money was used to buy three document cameras and three Google Chromebooks. In addition, they also bought activities and lesson plans that compliment the new equipment.