Vex Robotics Program

Working in Teams to Code, Design and Build Robots

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 through our in-house program; or participate at a higher level on our competitive teams. This innovative program uses the excitement of competitive sports to deeply engage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

VEX Robotics is my 7th Grade daughter’s favorite activity at Julian. She has made some great friends through the program and just really enjoys working on the robot after school and whenever else she can. I love her excitement about the program and her new interest in engineering.

— Julian Middle School Parent

Vex Robotics Program Goals

VEX participants engage in Computer Programming and Science, Mechanical Engineering, Physics and Mathematics. Thinking, Planning, Testing and Revising like an engineer is essential to the VEX Robotics program. Vex Robotics aims to provide:

Encouraging Diversity

Encourage girls and underrepresented minorities to experience VEX Robotics and learn more about engineering and design principles.

Builds Confidence

Build self-confidence (in students) through participation on teams, and the use of scientific methods to solve real-world problems.

Providing Mentorship

Provide middle school students the opportunity to work with, engage and learn from high school student mentors who have graduated from the VEX program.

Technical Development

Increase technical development and 21st Century Learner Skills such as critical thinking, leadership, problem-solving, communication.

Our Mission is Strengthened by Our Values:

To develop and support programs that embody these guiding principles: Equity and inclusion, A sense of belonging, Inspiration, Real-world Connections, Innovation, Community Engagement and Fun

Brooks Middle School Program Coordinator: Brian Shinners

Brian Shinners worked in industry with several manufacturing and distribution companies before becoming an Oak Park teacher in 1995. He’s taught math and now design technology at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School. He joined VEX Robotics in 2013-14, became Head Coach in 2014-15, and after a two-year break, returned as head coach in 2018-19.

Julian Middle School Program Coordinator: Tim Walsh

Tim Walsh began teaching science at Julian in 2000. Since 2005, Tim has been Head Coach of the Julian VEX Robotics competitive program. In 2012, Tim presented a proposal to the District 97 school board for STEM classes at the middle schools, which became a reality in the fall of 2013. Today, Tim teaches both Design & Modeling and Robotics at Julian. 

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.