photo by Paul Goyette

The Oak Park Education Foundation’s 7th annual VEX Robotics competition between Julian & Brooks students on January 28 was an amazing display of middle school engineering talent. More than 80 sixth-eight graders worked with teachers, volunteer engineers, and high school mentors after school for months to design, build and program inventive robots that showed their stuff on a playing field at the Julian gym in front of a packed house of cheering fans, friends and family.

This year Julian took back the trophy from Brooks in a 319-95 win. But they’re not finished — five teams from each middle school are still preparing for a regional competition in Batavia on February 11 to compete against area teams, most of them high schoolers.

During the Robotics competition, OPEF also held our first Open House showcasing all our programs: Architecture Adventure, Art Start, Science Alliance, Geared Up, VEX Robotics and BASE Camp. The Julian Commons was full of parents and kids, ages 5-12, trying their hands at challenging, educational and fun activities. Kids operated VEX Robots, build pocket totem sculptures, designed LEGO machines and created innovative buildings of LEGOs, experimented with water, rocks and electricity with EPA scientists, and created Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired window designs.

Thanks to all who participated, supported, attended, or followed us on Twitter, including our event sponsors: Aria Group Architects, Forest Park National Bank, Hoy Landscaping, It’s A Sign, and Starship Restaurant & Catering.

Make sure to check out our slideshow of photos from the VEX Competition and Open House from photographers Maria Soderberg and Paul Goyette. And watch this video of our VEX Robotics teams getting ready for the big competition.