Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla inaugurated the Rocket Club, an after school club for kids (9 – 14 years old) that teaches robotics, coding, and entrepreneurship, in Hoboken, NJ, last week.
The proprietary curriculum at the Rocket Club is designed to introduce kids to the world of robotics and coding, while teaching them how to launch their own business, under the guidance of experienced entrepreneurs. Inaugural members will be enrolled as part of Level 1, which will begin on February 25th and last the duration of 17 weeks, according to a press release.
A cornerstone of Rocket Club is to provide a network for their members that rivals any successful working professional. The club’s advisors and mentors, who also consulted on the club’s curriculum, are comprised of; thirteen company founders, nine Forbes 30 Under 30 recipients, four FIRST & VEX Robotics Alumni, a NASA engineer, and three VR/AR Unity experts.
Level 1’s curriculum will have members build and code custom Mars Rovers, robotic arms, cranes, and race cars for competitions. At semester’s end, members will develop a robotic product and a theoretical business campaign for a “Shark Tank” styled competition. The three Forbes 30 Under 30 judges, who are also accomplished founders of their own companies, will review the members’ brand strategies, marketing plans, and financial projections.
Rocket Club is the brainchild of Alex Hodara, a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, and Paulo Nunes, Rocket Club’s Director. The duo noticed a disparity in the lack of after school STEM focused programs, but an increase in STEM-related jobs. They wanted to open the club in a forward thinking community like Hoboken and in proximity to Stevens Institute of Technology.
“Inspired by Ad Astra, Elon Musk’s school for kids, we created an internal mock-economic system called Rocket Fuel, where members can earn ‘units’ by winning competitions, displaying moral objectivism, and active participation. Members can spend Rocket Fuel to hire consultants for projects and for prizes like drones or VR headsets.” said Director Paulo Nunes. “Our mission is to rid kids of any limiting beliefs when it comes to developing emerging technology or starting a business.”
Rocket Club’s workshop design is inspired by legendary Silicon Valley companies’ garages (like Apple and Microsoft). Every child’s work station comes complete with a laptop, Lego MINDSTORM EV3 kits, AR/VR equipment, and access to a 3D printer.
“We designed our curriculum around friendly and cooperative competition to tap into a child’s creativity and drive. By building, coding and marketing robots, our members will be performing at a different level than their average peers and even most adults, all while having fun. We set out to create a program and opportunities that we wished existed when we were kids,” said Hodara.“The skill set our members will develop will lead to innovations we cannot yet fathom, and to me that’s the most exciting part.”