Mon. Dec 11th, 2023
    Stateline Robotics Team 465: Modifying Power Wheels for Children with Special Needs

    The Stateline Robotics Team 465 at Hononegah Community High School has been making a significant impact in their community by using their skills to help children with special needs. Four years ago, the team modified a wheelchair for Jack, a local boy with cerebral palsy, enabling him to play outside and be more independent. Recently, they have done the same for Baylor, a young girl with spina bifida, who now loves racing around in her customized chair.

    One of their standout projects involves modifying the Power Wheels Wild Thing, a battery-powered ride-on vehicle originally designed for kids aged 5-10. By making changes to the wheels, seat, controls, programming, and drive system, the robotics team has transformed this toy into a valuable resource for children with special needs. They have even created an instructional video to help other robotics teams replicate their modifications and assist children in their own communities.

    This incredible initiative is part of the team’s involvement with FIRST Robotics, a national robotics community that aims to prepare young people for the future through inclusive, team-based robotics programs. With the support of volunteers, educators, and corporate sponsors, FIRST Robotics provides opportunities for students to explore new skills, solve problems, and make a positive impact on the world.

    Founded by Dean Kamen, an accomplished engineer and inventor, FIRST Robotics envisions a culture where science, engineering, and technology skills are celebrated, and young people aspire to become leaders in these fields. The Stateline Robotics Team, guided by lead mentors Kris King and Daniel Buchardt, along with a dedicated group of volunteers, spends an impressive 30 hours a week working on their projects and learning valuable skills.

    Beyond robotics, the team members also develop important attributes such as responsibility, financial and business skills, and collaboration. They actively engage with their community, building partnerships and raising funds for special projects.

    Looking ahead, the team has a packed schedule, with preseason competitions, a themed head-to-head challenge, and the possibility of qualifying for the World Championship. They are currently planning a toy drive to raise funds for children with fine motor skill challenges and are on the lookout for local sponsors to support their endeavors.

    By channeling their passion for robotics into helping those with special needs, the Stateline Robotics Team 465 serves as an inspiring example of how technology can empower individuals and create a more inclusive society.


    1. How did the Stateline Robotics Team modify the Power Wheels for children with special needs?

    The team made customizations to the wheels, seat, controls, programming, and drive system of the Power Wheels Wild Thing to make it more accessible and suitable for children with special needs.

    2. How can other robotics teams get involved in helping children in their communities?

    The Stateline Robotics Team has published an instructional video that demonstrates how to modify the Power Wheels toy. Other teams can follow their instructions to create similar modifications and assist children in their own communities.

    3. What is FIRST Robotics?

    FIRST Robotics is a national robotics community that offers inclusive, team-based robotics programs for students from pre-K to 12th grade. It is supported by volunteers, educators, and sponsors, including many Fortune 500 companies. The organization aims to prepare young people for the future by promoting skills in science, engineering, and technology.

    4. What skills do students on the Stateline Robotics Team learn?

    In addition to building industrial-size robots, team members gain skills in engineering, technology, responsibility, financial management, and collaboration. They also learn how to design a brand, develop partnerships with their community, and raise funds for special projects.

    5. What future competitions and events does the team have lined up?

    The team plans to compete in the Flap Jack Competition in December 2023 and participate in the themed, head-to-head challenge of the FIRST Robotics Competition in 2024. If they qualify, they may go on to the World Championship in April 2024. They will also co-host the R2OC off-season competition in July 2024.