VEX ROBOTICS

DESIGNING AND BUILDING ROBOTS ON TEAMS

BROOKS MIDDLE SCHOOL

OPEF VEX COACHES:

Brian Shinners, Competitive and In-House Head Coach

Marc Bishop, Competitive League Coach

Joe Casanovas, Competitive League Coach

Tasia Pena-Rodriguez, Competitive and In-House Coach

JULIAN MIDDLE SCHOOL

OPEF VEX COACHES:

Tim Walsh, Competitive League Head Coach

Kevin Berger, Competitive League Coach

Jason Morrell, Competitive League Coach

Miranda Tucker, Competitive League Coach

Gretchen Junker, In-House Club Coach

Valerie Brown, In-House Club Coach

VEX Robotics News

Robot Rumble!

  Six teams of VEX Robotics students at Julian Middle School designed robots, then built and battled each other in a Robot Rumble, exploring the various aspects of technology in competitive fun. The hands-on projects were organized in small groups, and kids...

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Robots and the American Revolution

What if Paul Revere was played by a robot? Working with D97 librarians, we recently began a pilot program for fifth graders combining our popular Geared Up and Robotics programs. The six-week residency excites kids about coding, tech, and robots and provides a new...

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Building a Sustainable Future for OPEF Robotics

  Over the years the VEX Robotics program has continued to grow, helping Oak Park middle school students gain valuable problem solving, communication, and engineering skills. Our program became a model for middle schools statewide because OPEF invested in...

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2019-2020 SEASON

League Event

VEX League Event

DECEMBER 7, 2019
Julian at Brooks Middle School
Heritage, Glenside, Hauser at Elm

League Events

VEX League Event

JANUARY 11, 2020
Julian, Glenside at Heritage
Brooks, Elm at Hauser

Robot Rumble

Robot Rumble

JANUARY 2020 
Julian and Brooks In-House Clubs 
Events held at each school, dates TBD

League Events

VEX League Event

FEBRUARY 8, 2020
Hauser, Elm at Julian
Brooks, Heritage at Glenside

Battle of the Bots League Championship

MARCH 7, 2020
at Julian Middle School

Robot Rumble

Robot Rumble

April 2020
Julian and Brooks In-House Clubs 
Events held at each school, dates TBD

A Premier “STEM” Program

Thinking, planning, testing…

and revising like an engineer is a life-changing, career-molding experience.

Working closely with adult mentors…

in tech fields, students see the relevance of their schoolwork and the joy of thinking, planning and testing like an engineer.

 

Our students build confidence…

and competence, whether or not they pursue a career in STEM, as the next generation’s problem-solvers, creative thinkers and team players.

We hire our own VEX graduates…

to help plan and organize the program and serve as role models and mentors to middle school students.

EXCITING ENGINEERING CHALLENGES


Launched in 2005, OPEF’s VEX Robotics is an award-winning program that brings together students and teachers to design, build and program robots. This innovative program uses the excitement of competitive sports to deeply engage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). We invest in cutting-edge technology and top-notch coaching, and are committed to enhancing our program every year.

 

The Competitive League is led by four teacher-coaches and relies on high school mentors and adult volunteers to engage students with more than 100 hours of hands-on learning during a season. The six-month season includes three local competitions and a culminating  championship called Battle of the Bots. Our 2019 tournament hosted 42 teams, which included 12 teams from each District 97 middle school and 18 from five regional middle schools. 

The In-House Club is an “intramural” option created in 2016 for younger middle school students who need an introduction to robotics or want a less intensive experience. The in-house club meets once a week for 12 weeks during a fall and spring season. It is an ideal stepping stone for sixth graders or beginners interested in learning more about designing and coding robots before diving into the more time-consuming competitive league. 

VEX ROBOTICS:

  • enables students to learn STEM through hands-on projects
  • teaches teamwork, leadership, creativity, problem-solving and project management skills
  • builds a technologically literate work force and creates a pipeline for future employees
  • is open to all District 97 students

VEX Robotics

OPEF VEX Robotics Team Member

“From Robotics I learned to be patient (even when things are stressful!), to communicate with teammates/peers and how to overcome things I never thought were possible for me to achieve.”

VEX Robotics

Parent of OPEF VEX Robotics Team Member

“He’s not a sports program participant, so this was a marvelous way for him to be engaged with something. I was amazed to find him become a leader and ‘take charge’ guy when necessary. He grew highly skilled in problem solving and confident enough to be able to abandon solutions in favor of new solutions and consequences.”

VEX Robotics

OPEF VEX Robotics Female High School Mentor & Former Team Member

“What I didn’t know before I joined the VEX Robotics program is that I am really good at computer programming. This is something that I hope I can develop into a career and I have the VEX Robotics program to thank.”

VEX Robotics

Parent of OPEF VEX Robotics Team Member

“This was an amazingly positive experience for my daughter….She has had the invaluable experience of learning to speak her mind, think creatively, and be an active participant in a group setting.”

AWARDS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

OPEF 2019 Battle of the Bots League Championship:

  • Excellence Award
  • Tournament Champion
  • Tournament Finalists
  • Robot Skills Winner
  • Design Award
  • Think Award
  • Sportsmanship Award

OPEF 2018 Battle of the Bots League Championship:

  • Excellence Award
  • Tournament Champion
  • Tournament Finalists
  • Robot Skills Winner
  • Design Award
  • Think Award
  • Sportsmanship Award

2017 IL Middle School State Championship:

  • Excellence Award
  • 2 Tournament Champions
  • Robot Skills Winner
  • Build Award
  • Design Award
  • Sportsmanship Award
  • Think Award

OPEF 2017 Battle of the Bots Middle School Tournament:

  • 2 Tournament Champions
  • 2 Tournament Finalists
  • Robot Skills Winner

2016 Cougar VEX Starstruck Challenge:

  • 2 Tournament Champions

2016 IL Middle School State Championship:

  • Tournament Champion
  • Programming Skills Winner
  • Robot Skills Winner
  • Amaze Award
  • Build Award
  • Create Award
  • Design Award
  • Energy Award
  • Sportsmanship Award

OPEF 2016 Battle of the Bots Middle School Tournament:

  • Excellence Award
  • Tournament Champion
  • 3 Tournament Finalists
  • Programming Skills Winner
  • Robot Skills Winner
  • Design Award
  • Innovate Award

2015 Illinois State Championship:

  • Middle School Excellence Award
  • Tournament Champion
  • Middle School Design Award
  • Programming Skills Award
  • Sportsmanship Award

OPEF 2015 Battle of the Bots Middle School Tournament:

  • Excellence Award
  • Tournament Champion
  • Tournament Finalist
  • Programming Skills Award
  • Robot Skills Award
  • Design Award
  • Build Award
  • Innovate Award
  • Judges Award
  • Sportsmanship Award
  • Think Award

SEE US IN ACTION

VEX Robotics Competition Tower Takeover: 2019 – 2020 VRC Game

VEX Robotics Competition Turning Point: 2018-2019 VRC Game

PROMO AWARD ENTRY – 2015

“WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU”

It costs more than $700 for one student to participate in the VEX Robotics Competitive League and compete in tournaments. OPEF pays for all coaching, mentors, equipment and tournament fees. A portion of this cost is offset by a participation fee, which is waived or reduced for families facing financial hardships. 

Michele Velarde McAndrews

VEX ROBOTICS COORDINATOR

Michele Velarde McAndrews, who started as OPEF’s Robotics coordinator in 2018, lives in Oak Park with her husband and three teenage children. For the past 15 years Michele has been an active volunteer in the Oak Park community, serving on the board of Pilgrim Community Nursery School, as a Girl Scout Troop Leader and VEX Robotics Parent Mentor. Michele also ran Brooks PTO fundraiser since 2013. Before moving to Oak Park, Michele enjoyed a successful career in management and customer service.

Connect with Michele at mvmcandrews@opef.org.