It was a day off from school, but a fair amount of learning took place anyway at BASE Camp: Gadget Day! 

On the Jan. 20, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the Oak Park Education Foundation (OPEF) hosted 190 children (grades K-8) from Oak Park and surrounding communities for a fun day of gadgets, games and gizmos. With the collaboration of several District 97 teachers, Triton College’s Engineering Technology faculty and the staff at Working Bikes Co-op in Chicago, these kids had the opportunity to play, move, create, build and explore with things that roll, things that stack, things that spin. 

Custom vehicles were made from take-out boxes, bottle caps and straws, and propelled by balloons. Chirping birds were made from circuit boards and feathers. LEGO vehicles were ramp-tested. Building board games like Mousetrap and Jenga were played, and then turned into new variations. Old bikes and their spare parts were repurposed for donation overseas and for creating bike art to take home. In the gym, kids rolled and spun through active games, experiencing the laws of motion. Along with the learning was much laughter and play.

OPEF is grateful to D97 and the wonderful building staff of Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School for supporting this one-day camp concept, as well as to all collaborators and Gadget Day families for their enthusiastic participation. 

Information about BASE Camp (Build A Summer Education) will be available in mid-February at

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