Nearly 30 Oak Park-area girls in 5th-8th grade participated in OPEF’s 2nd annual Robotics Workshop for Girls at Julian Middle School on May 22. Each team of three girls was given a remote-controlled bot that they customized and brought to life. They were supported by workshop coaches Jessica Moncatch and Erin Howe from the Oak Park Education Foundation’s award-winning VEX Robotics program, as well as a number of adult mentors.

Chee Kim, co-founder and president of Oak Park’s own viaForensics, and her colleagues Katie Strzempka and Arti Walker-Peddakotla paid a visit to the event. They jumped in to help, and Chee offered inspiring words to the girls about the need for more women to choose technology careers.

OPEF has done a number of things to encourage more girls to be more interested in technology, including creating a special girls-only class at the BASE Camp Gadget Day earlier this year called “Build a Bird.” Additionally, OPEF has added more female VEX coaches, specifically encouraged girls to participate, and trained local high school girls to be mentors.

For girls (and boys!) interested in getting hands-on experience with bots, check out the BASE Camp VEX Robotics classes this summer. Interested in sharing your passion for technology with D97 kids? Learn more about being a volunteer here.

Check out this slideshow of the Robotics Workshop for Girls by David Kindler of Chicago PhotoPress.