News: New Robotics Studio Coming to Tribeca, Sing Along with Frozen, Enter Doodle 4 Google, Social Media Rules for Teens

2/4/14 - By Alina Adams

Robots and contests and pre-k, oh my! One of our favorite programs for young inventors, Brooklyn Robot Foundry, is opening a Manhattan outpost in Tribeca. The annual Doodle 4 Google art competition for students just got underway. Plus, we have an update on the battle for universal pre-k, details on the sing-along version of Frozen, social media rules for teens and other cool news of interest to New York City families.


Openings & closings Future builders of Skynet, take note: Super-popular robot building studio Brooklyn Robot Foundry may have to tweak its name once it debuts its second location in Tribeca. The owners have leased a bright open space at 528 Canal Street and hope to open for parties and weekend workshops in March, and launch a Summer Program in June.

There's a new kid-friendly spot to snack in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn and it's got a delectable NYC back story. Peck’s prepared food shop was opened last month by local dad Theo Peck, grandson of the restaurateur behind the late legendary Ratner's on the Lower East Side. Grab noshes like corn muffins, rotisserie chicken, sandwiches and matzo ball soup to go, and eat in nearby Fort Greene Park. Or visit in spring when the owner plans to open a backyard for family-style dining.

We're bummed to announce the demise of a pair of popular family programs. The family film series at Lincoln Center and the Queens Museum's free MetLife Second Sundays for Families have both gone the way of the dodo. The good news? There are still plenty of fantastic children's movie series playing around town and the Queens Museum just kicked off a series of eight family-friendly Inaugural Cultural Celebrations that honor the borough's diversity. The fests are free with museum admission.

The Museum of Motherhood—a well liked drop-in play space for kids as well as a culture spot celebrating mamas—must vacate its Upper East Side digs at the end of March. The nonprofit is currently running a crowdfunding campaign in the hope of raising enough money to find a new, permanent home in Upper Manhattan or the Bronx.

Cool contests for kids The annual Doodle 4 Google contest is back! From now through Thursday, March 20, students in grades K through 12 are invited to submit drawings inspired by the theme "If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…" One talented tyke will take home a $30,000 college scholarship, along with a $50,000 technology grant for his or her school. In past years, Google has received more than 100,000 entries, so stressing that this is about fun not victory is probably a smart move. There will be 50 state finalists though, and all of those kids will get to visit Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters for a day of creative workshops. The Doodle 4 Google site has all the info on how to apply.

Got a basketball-loving teen? Put their skills to good use off the court by having them enter the New-York Historical Society's b-ball-themed contest tied to The Black Fives exhibit, which explores the history of African-American basketball teams. NYC high schoolers can submit original essays, videos or photographs in response to the question: "How has basketball profoundly changed New York history, United States history, or your own personal history?" There will be one winner in each category, and one grand prize: a $1,000 college scholarship. Enter through Monday, February 24 at

In other Frozen news Last time we told you that Disney's hit movie is headed to Broadway... eventually. But if your little Frozen fans can't wait, you may want to take them to the just released sing-along version of the movie, which is playing at several NYC cineplexes. It's a gimmick to be sure but a pretty good one. The Frozen soundtrack has been selling like hotcakes (make that cold ice cream) and some of the YouTube videos of kids covering the songs are going viral. One child even made an all-cats parody of the movie.

Student life The NYC Department of Education recently sent out social media guidelines to high schoolers and their parents. The doc reminds families that there is no right to privacy when using school-related social media, warns against cyberbullying and offers tips on maintaining a positive digital footprint (extremely important for future college admissions and employers). As the mom of an NYC high-school freshman, I appreciate the effort and the sound advice, but I suspect the kids who'll follow these guidelines already know them and the ones who don't won't magically come around.

Universal pre-k update: Newly-minted Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised to provide every NYC four-year-old with FREE, high-quality, full-day universal prekindergarten by September of 2015 with the release of his implementation plan. Though he says that "The real obstacle isn't space or personnel," I have to wonder how that's going to work. Over the past few years, several schools in my own district have eliminated their pre-k programs due to space constraints and overcrowded upper grades. Where are all these new students supposed to go? Let us know your reaction to de Blasio's plan in the comments.