It was a day off from school but don’t tell the kids how much learning took place anyway at BASE Camp Build Day! On the January 19 Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we hosted more than 200 children (grades K-8) from Oak Park and surrounding communities for a day of building stuff, building friendships, and building connections, all wrapped up in fun. With the collaboration of several District 97 teachers, Triton College’s Engineering Technology Lab, and VisMed 3D in Chicago, kids were able to create, build and explore.

The K-5 kids built a buoy with PVC pipe, golf balls and other fun stuff, using design and engineering principles and good old trial and error to get their buoy to float! They also got creative with recycled materials to build their dream dwelling, played lots of goofy games in the gym, and built the old-fashioned way — with LEGOs!

Half the participating 6th-8th graders went on a field trip to see real-word technology in action, visiting Triton College to computer-design and laser-cut a thinga-ma-bob, followed by an up-close demo of 3-D printing in the bio-medical world at VisMed 3D in Chicago. Other middle schoolers spent the day in the new Brooks Middle School “Project Lead the Way” lab developing computer coding skills.

We are grateful to District 97 and the wonderful building staff of Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School for supporting this one-day camp, as well as to all collaborators and Build Day families for their enthusiastic participation.

Make sure to check out this slideshow of Build Day photos by Oak Park photographers David Kindler and Angela Farnham.