16307442838_4c6f451e1c_zWe are very excited to announce that this season every OPEF VEX Robotics team will participate in five middle school only competitions. This does not include the State Championship, which for the first time will have a middle school division.

Participating in competitions is an important part of the VEX Robotics program. Competitive play motivates students and enables them to test the effectiveness of their robot’s design, get feedback essential for improvement, learn from others’ work, and experience teamwork and problem-solving under pressure.

As recently as 2012, we were the only middle school VEX Robotics program in Illinois. This meant we had to play against high school teams at regional competitions. In the summer of 2012, we made it our goal to help grow the middle school VEX Robotics division in Illinois. That was when we began networking and helping other middle schools start their own teams through support, advice and training.

Today there are 58 middle school teams in Illinois!

This season Heritage Middle School in Berwyn and Elm Middle School in Elmwood Park will work with our two schools to have at least one scrimmage or tournament every month from November through February.

Just two years ago, 9% of our students participated in three mixed competitions. Last year, 82% of our students participated in three competitions. This year, all of our teams will attend five competitions, all of which will be for middle school teams only!

One of things that made this amazing competition season possible was the successful Informitics Challenge Fundraiser we had last season, which allowed us to purchase two additional arenas. These additional arenas allow us to easily have competitions as well as loan them to other schools that may need them.