Diversity & Inclusion
Good Works / Robotics / STEM

Brooklyn Robot Foundry launches first scholarship program [PHOTOS]

The Brooklyn Robot Foundry was founded to create a space for kids who like to make and build. As of this week, they can open their workshops up to some students who couldn't go before.

Some model creations of basic robots, at the Brooklyn Robot Foundry Photo by Brady Dale, 10/2/2013

The Brooklyn Robot Foundry is meant to be as open and inclusive a place as possible.

Jenny Young, 35, owner and cofounder, said that she was motivated to found the Gowanus business so that kids who liked to make and build could have a place to be together. She feels like she has succeeded in creating something of a community.

This week, she was able to launch the programs first scholarship program, in order to help a small number of students who can’t afford to attend their classes to take part.

From the Robot Foundry's Flickr page - used by permission

Young announced the program over her email list, which reaches some 2,000 families around Brooklyn, Manhattan and the greater New York area. She told Technically Brooklyn that while she doesn’t have precise numbers about how many scholarships she can give out, she hopes be able to support one spot in each weekend class, with either partial or full scholarship. Interested families can fill out this application.

The Brooklyn Robot Foundry held its first class in November 2011, at the Gowanus Studio Space, on 7th St, between 2nd and 3rd Ave. The operation is now in a permanent space nearby, on Third Avenue. Young founded it with a former work colleague, but she has since bought him out and has been working full time on the business for about 18 months.

Jenny Young at the FoundryVisitors can see the space by visiting its store in the front, where different kits and robots for children and families can be purchased. The store, Young told us, mainly serves as a way to give people a chance to come in and ask questions. The real business is the company’s classes.

Other basics:

  • The summer is their busiest time. This past summer, they had 35 children in 11 different seven day sessions. Some of the students attended two sessions.
  • They offered a robot vehicles curriculum and a robot forts and cities curriculum.
  • The summer ended with one seven day session where teams built a series of Rube Goldberg machine, each of which began with a dropped ball and ended with the previous machine activating the next machine’s ball. Students were able to use electrical circuits and motors in the project, creating more diverse and interesting devices.

You can see the result, here:

The Foundry also runs after school and weekend classes, appropriate to different age levels. Because Young believes that girls should be encouraged to take an interest in technology, she also runs a Robot Girls Club out of the space.

It’s important for her to give students the idea that what matters is the process, not the project, she said. She said she knows they are making headway with a student when he or she takes apart one robot they built in a class and makes something else with its parts.

Students pay around $400 or $500 for different sessions. Young said she located in Gowanus because it’s close to a large population of children from families that can afford to send them to classes like hers. Sessions fill up quickly. But, she said, she wants the resource to be widely available, that’s why she told us: “It feels nice to be able to offer something to students who want to do this but can’t afford to.”

In the near future, The Brooklyn Robot Foundry may begin developing teacher workshops and curriculum, she said, but the real goal is to open more locations. Students are coming from Tribeca and Long Island City, even from the New York suburbs, so, if possible, Young hopes to move Foundries into those neighborhoods, too, and reach even more young makers.

Young is trained as a Mechanical Engineer. After a long career in project management and on the business side of technology, she said that she “wanted to get back to doing something with my hands.”

Brooklyn Robot Foundry

Inside the Brooklyn Robot Foundry Storefront at Brooklyn Robot Foundry Hugging Bot at Brooklyn Robot Foundry

Series: Brooklyn

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