What is FAB?
F.A.B (Food, Art, Building) is a program focused on inspiring more people to pursue STEM careers. We do this by providing lessons and teaching materials to students and teachers. STEM careers and education have shown to be great opportunities for upward mobilization in the job market. People who work in STEM fields earn more than those who do not with similar levels of education, this includes those who earn STEM degrees but do not end up working in STEM fields.
In particular, we are taking a focus on people who have been traditionally left out of STEM careers, particularly seeking out opportunities to teach girls and children who identify as Black or Latinx. While women have made gains in the fields of healthcare, life science, and mathematics, their representation remains low in engineering careers (14% as of 2018) and is actually shrinking in computer science (down from 35% in 1990 to 25% in 2018) which is one of the fasted growing and highest paying fields. As of 2018, Black and Latinx workers comprised 11% and 16% of the workforce respectively, but only represent 5% and 8% of engineering workers, and 7% each for computer science workers.
Why is F.A.B Important?
We believe that accessibility is at the core of Spyce’s mission. This goes beyond our dynamic menu and employment philosophy. We believe that everyone should have access to high-quality, good-paying jobs and believe that by targeting our F.A.B program in this way, we can bring a little more equality into our community.
My name is Brady Knight, and I am one of the co-founders here at Spyce. F.A.B is the best part of my job. It all began pretty organically from our team’s passion to give back to our community, and my passion for teaching.
I came from a family of teachers. My parents are both teachers, I have an aunt and uncle that teach, an aunt that tutored, my cousins teach, my twin brother taught in college… it’s in my blood. In fact, if it wasn’t for Spyce, I would have gone into teaching myself.
With the help and encouragement from Grace Uvezian (shout out to Gracie Grace!) who was working in our marketing department at the time, we began organizing groups of students to come into our restaurant to take STEAM classes. We felt that having an Art aspect of the lessons helped to make STEM classes more accessible to students. We built a curriculum in electronics, robotics, computer science, and even chemistry and hosted classes in our restaurant before we opened in the mornings.
Within the first 15 months of the program, we were able to host ten F.A.Bevents for the greater Boston community, and one for the families of our restaurant team. We partnered with Boston Public Schools, the Big Brother Big Sister program, BoSTEM, the Museum of Science, the Boston Children’s Museum, and the Boston Youth Sanctuary before the pandemic forced us to stop hosting classes in person.
Navigating FAB During a Pandemic
Knowing that our teaching mission was still important (if not more important) amid an era of social distancing, we worked hard to find where our program would fit into a remote teaching landscape. After conducting an extensive teacher survey, we found that what students were missing most was hands-on learning that they could do from home. As a result, we began transforming our in-person lessons into “F.A.B Go-Kits” that could be sent home to students for at-home learning.
When looking to distribute these kits we were fortunate enough to meet the folx at STEAM Ahead. It was a match made in heaven. They were looking for a company to sponsor their engineering curriculum for their summer program, and especially wanted hands-on lessons to send to their students. We gave them our Go-Kits, along with video lessons so their students could learn to build robots and electrical circuits at home. We also gave them feedback on inventions they created and hosted an innovation night to talk about inventions and robotics and answer their very intelligent questions. We donated a total of 50 kits to the program over the summer.
Moving forward, we are excited to continue to partner with STEAM Ahead as they work with schools in the Boston area throughout the school year. This fall we have donated another 100 kits to which will be going to students in the greater Boston area. We are also working with the Go Red for Women program and hosted a “STEM and Healthy Eating” virtual event this past November.
What’s Next for FAB?
It’s exciting for me to be able to use Spyce as a platform to give the gift of teaching back to our community. We look forward to donating more Go-Kits in 2021 with the help of STEAM Ahead. We are also working to weave more of our F.A.B program into the very blog you’re reading now! We plan to post our F.A.B lesson plans here, along with part buying guides so parents and teachers can do these lessons with their children and students.
We know that teacher’s budgets are slim, so in the spirit of accessibility, some of our lessons can be taught for as little as $4 per student! We will also have video tutorials for each lesson so teachers can spend less time making remote lesson plans, and parents will spend less time trying to balance their regular jobs with their new tutoring responsibilities.
It makes me so happy to know that a restaurant like ours can make a meaningful impact in the education space. I once felt a ping of regret, jumping into the restaurant industry instead of pursuing my calling as an educator. I certainly no longer feel that way and believe that through Spyce, we can make an even larger impact to underserved communities than I could have as an instructor alone. It warms my heart, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us.