Build-A-Bot at the Brooklyn Robot Foundry

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Getting your kids interested in science and technology has never been easier. Take them on a day trip to Gowanus, Brooklyn, so they can try out the Brooklyn Robot Foundry. They’ll get to explore electricity, gears, motors and maybe even design, build and take home their very own robot. Read on to get the scoop on this unique educational spot.


What’s It All About?
The Robot Foundry offers drop-off classes, clubs, half-day and full-day sessions and open play for kids ages four and older.  Your kiddos will learn about mechanical engineering and electrical principles from teachers in the know. Toys and common household objects are used to help convey how electricity, gears and motors work. Sound too technical to be fun? No way – fun (while learning and doing awesome things!) is the Foundry’s primary goal. After all of the Brooklyn Robot Foundry’s programs (except for open/free play sessions), kids bring home a robot that they have built.


What Happens at Open Play?
Every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 11:30 am, The Foundry offers weekend open play for kids ages 5 to 9. At these $15 per hour workshops, rather than doing a specific robot-related project, kids will put together obstacle courses, craft robots out of clay and found objects, create marble runs, build giant LEGO creations and much more. And since it’s a supervised drop-off session they’ll do all that while you grab coffee with a friend, hit the gym or insert other me-time activity here.

What Kind of Classes Can Kids Take?
If you choose a class, your kids will create their own robot to bring home. Each class (priced $40 to $80) has is slightly different, so make sure to take a look at all of their offerings per age group to select what interests your kid the most. For example, 7 to 9 year olds who love their plush toys can take a class called Electronic Stuffed Animals. In this class, kids build their very own creature, choosing from four designs and then incorporating LEDs into their creation. If you have kids 6 – 8 that love art projects, they can take a class called Doodling Robot, where they will make their very own robot that draws beautiful pictures for them.


What Other Programs Do They Offer?
The Foundry is offering Spring After School sessions (with walking pickup from PS10, PS321, Children’s School, PS58 and the Brooklyn New School – check the website for details), parties (they last 1.5 hours and each kid will take home their very own robot) and summer sessions. The summer sessions are week-long programs giving kids the chance to design, build and play with robots. They will also engage in brainstorming and experimenting, plus they’ll spend some time outdoors. While the emphasis is on play, kids learn mechanical and electrical principles as well. They will be able to create robots that have systems similar to such everyday objects as vibrating cell phone motors and scooters.

They also have a Robot Girls’ Club, which meets on Sundays from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. At this program, unlike the others, parents have the option to stay and build with their daughters. Their hope is to create a community of parents and daughters who can build and learn together.


The Backstory
The Brooklyn Robot Foundry was launched last year at World Maker Faire New York. The organization’s co-founders, Jenny Young and Dave VanEsselstyn, met while working at an educational software company. Young has her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and VanEsselstyn has his Ph.D. in Education Technology from Columbia. The two friends have both been working with their hands since they were kids, so they share a mutual philosophy of learning and coming together through making things. They believe in the “do it together” mentality and the importance of building a community around this common goal. Their goal with the Brooklyn Robot Foundry is to create an environment that is educational, community-based and, most importantly, fun.

The Robot Foundry
303 3rd Avenue (Between 1st and Carroll streets)
Brooklyn, Ny
Phone: 347-762-6840
Ages: 4+
Cost: $15/hour open play, classes from $40 (two sessions).

What kind of robot would your little engineers create?

–Christine Knight

Photos courtesy of the Brooklyn Robot Foundry