Cargill Grant Benefits Pope John XXIII High School STEM Program

PJCC STEM program gets a boost from Cargill
Science teacher Audrey Wondercheck, Technology Coordinator Julie Dwyer and Science teacher Lauren Borer accepted the donation from Brent Schmidt of Cargill. Photo submitted

Local Cargill representative, Brent Schmidt recently presented a check for $3,750 to the Environmental Science/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program at Pope John XXIII Central Catholic High School in Elgin. The funds were donated courtesy of the Cargill Cares grant, which included funds from the local Cargill location along with a matching grant from Cargill’s Global Partnership Fund.

In 2015-16, faculty members from the Pope John science department were granted funds from Cargill to start an Environmental Science/STEM class, which focused on better preparing students who were interested in pursuing a career in agriculture and also to get learners excited about STEM in agriculture. Pope John Technology Coordinator, Julie Dwyer stated, “It was decided to add another dimension to this class with the incorporation of robotics. Thanks to being awarded a Cargill Cares grant, this will become a reality.”

Robotics can play a significant role in meeting future agricultural needs by improving production yield while reducing resources required, and making farming an exciting high-tech profession. Farmers are already among the most prominent adopters of robotic technology, and we would like our students to be aware and part of these exciting changes in the ag industry.

Grant monies will be used to purchase materials needed to build six robots, robot programming software, and the project-based curriculum to move students through the engineering process. The materials purchased for this class would also be used to supplement curricula in the physics and junior high science classes that are currently being taught at Pope John.