In 1998 Laura Hart, a Harvard Graduate School of Education graduate, MIT Media Lab collaborator founded Robofun. Laura’s vision was to create a place where children will get hands-on experience with STEM. Laura, through her experience as a mother, recognizes that there was a need for a place that will complement and enhance private and public school STEM educations. Unbound by mandated curriculums and test preparation, Laura and the Robofun team believe that children learn best by building and making, and by having exciting materials and tools with which to work. Most importantly, children learn best when they are having fun; when they create something that is personally meaningful.
Our philosophy is based on constructivism or constructionism. We learn best by building and making and by having exciting materials and tools with which to work. Our founder and CEO, Laura Hart, studied and worked with the late Dr. Seymour Papert, co-founder of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, which later became the MIT Media Lab. They worked together for thirty years. Dr. Papert developed the programming language LOGO, the precursor to Scratch (a language we teach) with over 9 million users. Dr. Papert also developed LEGO® Robotics.
We believe that good teaching recognizes that each child has his/her own learning style or abilities. Our teachers create an environment that allows students to progress at their own pace, encourages collaboration and teamwork and most importantly - our teachers motivate students to never give up and focus on confidence building and creative problem-solving skills.
RoboFun offers dynamic workshops for children using cutting edge technologies. Children ages 3 – 12 (Pre-K to 6th grade) come to our studio on 102nd Street and Broadway in Manhattan to build and program robots, design and construct video games and make stop-motion animations. Your child will learn engineering, coding and creative thinking. Our work is based on children’s innate passion and curiosity and our workshops allow children to become makers and designers. We run creative after-school programs and train teachers in over 100 schools in the New York City area.
By utilizing technology we provide pre-Kindergarten to 6th grade New York City children, of any skill level or ability, an experiential learning environment that promotes thinking that enables children to devise solutions to challenges that involve building, programming and creating in robotics, Minecraft, game design and stop motion animation. Our curriculum is based upon the understanding that all children want to learn and that “hard fun” means that problem solving is challenging, exciting and personally meaningful. Our curriculum complements existing public and private schools’ STEM curriculums. We allow kids to be builders, makers, and coders.
Through hands-on and nurturing personalized attention, we show children how to hone their natural imagination, curiosity and creativity and how to use them to navigate and handle technical challenges as well as working collaboratively. We achieve these goals by employing mentors who foremost must love working with children and teachers that exhibit all of the qualities and skills that we want to impart to our students. Safety as well as addressing the individual skills and needs of each student are the foundation of our Mission.
OUR SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Like many parents and educators, Robofun is committed to exposing children to all aspects of technology. Our commitment goes beyond just providing a place where children get hands-on experience in the realm of STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. Behind the scenes, we work tirelessly to design a curriculum that combines tech and fun. Members of our Advisory Board are leaders and innovators in the field of STEM and Art, and we don’t use the term “leaders” lightly. Along with our founder, Laura Hart, they share a commitment to STEM but, most importantly, the love for imparting their knowledge to children. They are experts in education and recognize that learning isn’t one-size-fits-all and, as a result, children of all skills levels and abilities feel at ease (and have fun) as students of our program.
As President and CEO of the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), Dr. Margaret Honey is committed to using the museum as a platform through which it can nurture a generation of creative and collaborative problem solvers in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Under her leadership NYSCI has developed its Design-Make-Play approach to STEM learning and engagement. A graduate of Hampshire College, with a doctorate in developmental psychology from Columbia University, Dr. Honey has shared what she’s earned before Congress, state legislatures, and federal panels, and through numerous articles, chapters, and books.
She currently serves as a member of the National Science Foundation’s Education and Human Resources Advisory Committee, National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, and the National Academies Division of Behavioral, Social Sciences and Education Advisory Committee. She also serves on the boards of Bank Street College of Education, the Scratch Foundation, and the Concord Consortium.
Artemis Papert is an artist creating art in both traditional, mainly acrylic and pastel, and digital media, using code as the medium. After a first career as a research biologist she retrained in the healing art of shiatsu. With an interest in dream and fairy tale interpretation and as a lifelong learner, she is currently training to become a Jungian psychoanalyst. Artemis has led TurtleArt workshops (a programming environment based on turtle geometry and the LOGO language) for a wide variety of groups in many countries.
Adriana Pentz is a passionate maternal mental health advocate and social entrepreneur. With over 17 years of teaching and working with young leaders, Adriana has led a variety of initiatives from training young professionals in creating social change, to running after school robotics classes. She currently serves as the Founder of the Westchester Postpartum Group, and runs ESL classes for K-2 grade children. Adriana lives in Sleepy Hollow with her husband and two children.
Mitchel Resnick is a Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, where he develops new technologies and activities to engage people (especially children) in creative learning experiences. His Lifelong Kindergarten research group develops the Scratch programming software and online community, the world’s largest coding platform for kids. His group also collaborates with the LEGO® Company on the development of new educational ideas and products, including LEGO® Mindstorms robotics kits. Resnick co-founded the Computer Clubhouse project, an international network of 100 after-school learning centers, where youth from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies. Resnick earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton, and a Masters and PhD degrees in computer science from MIT. He was awarded the McGraw Prize in Education (2011), the AACE EdMedia Pioneer Award (2013), and the ISTE Making IT Happen Award (2018). He is author of the book Lifelong Kindergarten, which won the PROSE award for Education Practice in 2018.
Sara Lee Schupf
Sara Lee Schupf is focused on STEM initiatives, especially those relating to STEM education. In addition, she supports programs and ideas that provide more opportunities for women and girls to engage in STEM. She initiated the Weizmann Women and Science Award, and is currently a Trustee of the New York Hall of Science, Eugene Lang College, and the Liberal Arts College at the New School. She is also a Trustee Emerita of Skidmore College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the namesake of the former Sara Lee Corporation.
Since the late 1970s, Brian Silverman has been involved in the invention of learning environments for children. His work includes dozens of LOGO versions (including LogoWriter & MicroWorlds), Scratch, LEGO® robotics, TurtleArt and the PicoCricket. Brian has been a Visiting Scientist at the MIT Media Lab, enjoys recreational math, and is a computer scientist and master tinkerer. He once even built a tic-tac-toe playing computer out of TinkerToys.
Laura Hart —
Founder & CEO
Laura has worked with teachers, students and technology for over thirty-five years. An early interest in LOGO programming led Laura to the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she collaborated on projects with the MIT Media Laboratory and mathematician and educator Dr. Seymour Papert, the founder of LOGO programming and one of the world’s foremost experts on instructional technologies. Prior to founding Robofun, Laura directed the Computer Department at The Buckley School in Manhattan for fourteen years and was Director of the Technology Program at the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School for two years. Laura was named as one of the Enterprising Women of the Year in both 2006 and 2008 by Enterprising Women magazine. Laura has a bachelor of Science in Studio Arts from Skidmore College and a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Laura is thrilled to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of starting the company!
Laura is a bit of a child whisperer. She absolutely loves the energy children and has a hand in every curriculum and class to make sure each student’s needs are met and that they leave Robofun as a more confident and eager learner. She is a passionate environmentalist and shares her worm composting along with other science projects with our Robofun students.
Noah Diamond —
On-Site Program Manager
Noah has worked with Robofun for the past eight years teaching Robotics (from Pre-K through High School), and Game Design and Animation. As the Program Manager for Robofun, he handles everything from the logistics of making sure each class provides an excellent learning experience for each child to making sure our space is welcoming for all. He likes combining the vision of an entrepreneur with the spirit of a teacher. He especially enjoys seeing that each child has a fun experience learning and growing. Noah has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago.
Kelly Hynes —
Senior Manager of Human Resources & Recruitment
Kelly has over 8 years of experience working in education and has worked at Robofun for the past two years ensuring that we hire and retain great teachers. She has taught English as a second language in China and Vietnam, and managed ESL schools in Indonesia and Brazil. She is passionate about making high-quality education accessible to all students and connecting teachers with rewarding work that allows them to use their creativity. She enjoys meeting new people, traveling, reading, and practicing Portuguese. Kelly has a Bachelor of Arts from George Washington University.
Millicent Cheu —
Millicent has worked extensively in early childhood education across a wide range of ages and needs. For the past two years, she has run classes with us in Robotics, Pre-Robotics and Game Design and Animation. She is especially sensitive to making sure the needs of each and every student she teaches are met. Millicent has a Bachelors of Art in Psychology from Baruch College, and a Bachelors of Science in Biology from City College.
Ava Ulmer —
Ava has a wealth of experience in the fields of Stop Motion and Coding. Her experience teaching for us and for museums across the city allows her to know how to work well with kids of all levels and experience. Her personal passion for coding and for Stop Motion Animation is infectious and her students produce amazing projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Electronic Arts from Bard College.
Leonardo Cunalata — Technology Mentor
Leo has taught programs for us for the past four years. He is a thoughtful, engaged teacher who is deeply respected by his fellow teachers as well as his students. For every curriculum he teaches, he finds ways to make it personally meaningful to each student. He also helps us develp new ideas and new curriculums. Leo has a Bachelors Degree from Queens College in Media Studies.
Jared Peer — Technology Mentor
Jared is a teacher for us as well as a certified New York City Public School teacher. He currently teaches art Urban Assembly for Media Studies, a High School in Manhattan. Jared has an amazing background in all sorts of uses of technology with children from programming with microprocessors such as the Arduino, to deep knowledge of LEGO Robotics. Jared is a playful caring teacher that knows his students well and works to make each lesson have clear learning goals and is also fun. Jared has two bachelor’s degrees from SUNY New Paltz. One is a Bachelor of Science in Visual Art Education and the other is a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Sculpture.