Helping Children Explore Their Curiosities Is Our Super Power

BASE Camp Openings
BASE Camp Openings
Want a quick guide to what's still open? Visit our BASE Camp Page to see a full list!


Registration Is Open!
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Our Mission
To bring hands-on STEAM opportunities to D97 youth that inspire a lifelong love of learning.
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Elementary School Programs

Our goal is to serve every student in D97 through our in-school programs and provide each child with hands on STEAM education to inspire a lifelong love of learning.

Art Start

K-2nd Grade

OPEF’s Art Start Program provides D97 students the opportunity for special hands-on creative experiences in the classroom with community artists. Professional sculptors, painters, dancers, musicians, storytellers and fabric artists collaborate with teachers and students.

Lego Mindstorms/Gears

5th Grade

Through OPEF’s 5th Grade Lego Mindstorms Program, D97 students work with Lego Mindstorms and other robotic programs to learn about the power of coding and using engineering principles to solve challenges. OPEF partners with D97 librarians to help deliver this program as a part of the 5th grade elementary library learning center’s curriculum. The OPEF Gear’s Program provides Lego Education Kits and instruction booklets to 4th and 5th grade classes upon request.

Science Alliance

3rd-5th Grade

During OPEF Science Alliance Program, professional scientists visit the classroom and collaborate with teachers to provide hands-on scientific experiences for students or students take a field trip to the scientist. Students work side by side with professionals and actively participate in the scientific process. Sample experiences include: dissecting sheep’s eyes, learning about diseased cells and engaging with a falcon.

Middle School Programs

Our goal is to serve every student in D97 through our in-school programs and provide each child with hands on STEAM education to inspire a lifelong love of learning.

Spoken Word

6th-8th Grade

OPEF’s Spoken Word Program provides opportunities for middle school students to write and revise poems that reflect their own experiences, interests, and opinions. All D97 middle school students experience this program as it is offered within the language and literature classes. Each class is guided by our Spoken Word residential artist, who collaborates with D97 teachers to deliver curriculum that focuses on the art of poetry, reflective writing, and the development of performance speaking skills. OPEF also sponsors an after-school Spoken Word Club where students from Brooks and Julian come together weekly to share their poetry in a safe and supportive environment.

VEX Robotics

6th-8th Grade

OPEF’s VEX Robotics is an award-winning after school program that brings together students and teachers to design, build and program robots in both intramural and competitive leagues. D97 Middle School students can experience an introduction to robotics or participate in robotic competitions with their peers. 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.

A Message from Our Executive Director

Thank you for taking the opportunity to learn more about OPEF. We are committed to providing STEAM education programs where children are energized through hands-on learning experiences that are engaging, inclusive, and inspirational.

Every student deserves access to quality educational opportunities that provide safe spaces to explore new interests and develop a diverse set of skills. As a result, our programs are free for all D97 students during the school year, and we have a generous scholarship program for our summer camps.

— K. Latonia Baker

“We love OPEF Programs. My kids are so excited each summer for BASE Camp and learn so much! They have also enjoyed Spoken Word programs during the school day”

— Local D97 Parent

Inspiring D97 Kids Annually for Over 30 Years

Middle School Students Creating Poems Through Spoken Word Program

5th Graders Participating in Lego Mindstorms Program

K-2 D97 Students Experiencing Art Start Program

Help Support OPEF’s Mission Today

Behind Every OPEF Program, lesson and camp is the intention to affect positive change, support families in need and provide STEAM opportunities for children.