Participating in competitive robotics is for Elm Middle School students who want to take their education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics up a notch.

But getting to that point isn’t easy — students must apply for a spot on an Elm Robotics team.

Once selected, team members design, build and program a robot that will compete in various contests sponsored by the Chicagoland Robotics League, including the annual VEX Battle of the Bots Tournament.

The Battle of the Bots was held for many years at Julian Middle School in Oak Park, but this year Elm hosted the event. The tourney drew 33 teams from six middle schools on March 5, 2022. Five teams represented Elm.

Elm also hosts the annual Cougar Challenge robotics competition.

Team members meet after school. Elm robotics teams are coached by science teacher Mr. Steve Mrkvicka.

The Elmwood Park Educational Foundation has generously supported Elm Robotics over the years, raising nearly $2,300 in 2015-16 alone to help get the program started.