Our Committment to Inclusivity
At The Robot Garage, inclusivity is core to our culture. We started as, and remain, a family business that focuses on individuals. We envision a community where we greet all our students and team members by name, get to know their families, and welcome everyone into our maker space as if we were welcoming them into our own home.
What we didn’t expect was the richness that would bring to our lives and so many others.
We didn’t foresee being included in the Sri Lanken community of one of our first employees, the wonderful food his mother would send for us to share, their family gatherings to celebrate special occasions, and being introduced to the world of Indian Dance. We didn’t understand, first hand, the impact that warmth would have on children, especially children who felt bullied or belittled in other settings. When the captain of a local high school football team was running our birthday parties and treating every child, parent, and grandparent at the party, as if they were his favorite and most valued teammates, the energy in the room was palpable, and had everything to do with why we were voted “Best Birthday Spot” the year we opened. When we had our first field trip with Detroit Public Schools, and challenged a class of middle school students to build and battle robots for the first time, we didn’t expect the principal of the school to walk down the hall to see what all the noise was, and tell us she had never seen 100% of her students engaged in anything before The Robot Garage. We didn’t expect almost a third of our students to eventually come from that underserved community either. We did not expect to hear, almost daily from parents, that The Robot Garage was the only place their child felt safe.
Our belief that every child has the potential to come up with an idea that could improve the world is core to who we are. A journalist asked us at our first ribbon cutting how we would know if we succeeded. We said that if we were reading about some incredible invention 30 years from now, and the inventor credited a class at The Robot Garage as sparking their interest in something, then we would have succeeded. We try to treat every single child as if they may become that person because we have no way of knowing who it will be. That means our team needs to be as diverse and inclusive as possible to try to provide role models to as many children as possible. That means by example, to model a community of very cool interesting unique individuals who treat each other with respect, and who work well together as a team.
Teaching STEM to kids is rewarding but it has its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is apparent in the statistics. The majority of students in the U.S. have decided they are not “good” at math or science by the 4th grade. That means they aren’t even considering STEM electives or after-school programs that may very well be more engaging than the traditional classes that already convinced them they were weak in this area. Absolutely, every child has the potential to come up with an idea that could improve our world. That is the premise with which we start each day and at the core of our belief in inclusivity. The challenge is to tap into that potential, and to tap into each child’s confidence, and sense of fun in that potential. The history of innovation teaches us that greatness come from every race, nation, and sex. It teaches us about gifted composers with hearing disabilities, scientists in wheelchairs, and people on the spectrum running companies. Our vision statement is a simple and inclusive one “to create an aha moment everyday for every child” and that is what guides us. Should we fall short of this, please let us know. We welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to read more about inclusivity in education, the following links may be helpful.