Architecture Adventure

Architecture Adventure taps into Oak Park’s wealth of architecture and professionals in the field to inspire student learning. District 97 students learn about architecture, work with visiting architects, design and build projects, and take field trips to Oak Park and Chicago sites of interest.

Architecture Adventure brings the experience, expertise and passion of professional architects, engineers and designers into the classroom. The program takes place in K-8th grade core curriculum and art classrooms.

Art Start

Art in the classroom matters. It gives children wider vocabulary. It introduces new perspectives, helps develop problem-solving skills and creates new opportunities for children to excel in school. As one first grader said, “It’s good to try new things because you never know what you’ll like.”

In OPEF’s Art Start program, professional sculptors, painters, dancers, musicians and storytellers collaborate with teachers and kids in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade. Their projects deepen every child’s experience of the curriculum through the arts.

Over the last 17 years, more than 13,000 District 97 children have participated in Art Start. Art Start receives funding from Target, the Oak Park Area Arts Council in partnership with the Village of Oak Park and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, as well as generous support from individuals.

Geared Up

Geared Up brings engineering, physical science, math and technology to elementary school students. The program uses LEGO motorized Mechanisms sets to teach exciting hands-on lessons, with students testing their own ideas and working in teams of two.

Geared Up is in all District 97 3rd grade classrooms, and is part of our summer BASE Camp for students going into 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.

Geared Up excites teachers and young students about engineering and technology, prepares many of them for VEX Robotics in the middle schools, and connects the community to the classroom by bringing in volunteers, including engineers, technology experts and parents. It also promotes hands-on problem solving and teamwork skills.

Science Alliance

Science Alliance matches scientists from Chicago’s leading scientific corporations, museums, academic and scientific institutions in an educational partnership with classes of 3rd through 8th graders.

Our exciting roster of visiting scientists includes environmental scientists from the EPA, a cardiologist from Children’s Memorial Hospital, an astronomer from IIT and an evolutionary biologist from the University of Chicago. Working side by side with these professionals, our students learn that science has many practical applications that smart, interesting adults in their community use in their work every day.

Spoken Word

Spoken Word is a powerful and effective medium for fostering creativity and self-expression in young people.

Through both in-school residencies and extracurricular clubs, students learn to write and revise poems that reflect their own unique experiences, interests, and opinions.

Vex Robotics

The Oak Park Education Foundation VEX Robotics Program engages middle school students in learning about science, technology, engineering and math by working on teams to design, build and program a robot to compete in the annual VEX Robotics Challenge Game.

OPEF’s VEX Robotics is an award-winning program that is recognized both in Illinois and nationally as a premier STEM program. OPEF VEX Robotics qualified teams for the National Championship 2012 and 2013, and in 2013 sent a team to the World Championship. This year we qualified 6 teams for the new Illinois VEX Robotics State Championship and 2 of them qualified for the World Championship.