Cary, NC – As jobs of the future will require more understanding of science and math, a new after-school and camp in Cary is looking at ways to use new technology to help students better learn STEM concepts.
Zaniac is opening its first center in Cary on Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Parkside Town Commons and focuses on how students can be better engaged with STEM subjects through a different approach to teaching. While there is a classroom element, Campus Director Matt Pepe said there is a larger focus on “experiential learning.”
“Students are instructed on concepts and then the rest is hands-on learning where they take what they learned and use it to solve problems,” Pepe said.
These problems could be using physics to design an experiment or using engineering to program a robot or use coding to build an app.
“The children are more engaged. Instead of thinking of it as school, they think it’s fun,” Pepe said.
Zaniac is using both after-school classes and long-term camps to get students connected with the subjects and skills taught there. And Pepe hopes it can be supplemental to local schools and can even share their resources and techniques with other educators.
Taking On New Technology
One of the defining features of Zaniac is how it uses new technologies as part of its process. Not only is there a heavy focus on computers and programming, but Zaniac uses robotics, 3D printers and games such as Minecraft to, as Pepe put it, get kids engaged and tap into their creativity.
“With 3D printing and designing apps, they have something to take home with them,” Pepe said. “At the end of the day, they have a finished product, whether it’s an object they wanted or an app their friends could download directly.”
This kind of creative freedom helps students focus more on the subject matter, which Pepe said is an important part of the 3D printed courses.
“With 3D printing, you’re learning design and programming,” he said. “We give them the tools and then let them make what they want.”
And speaking of technology, Pepe said a big reason why he wanted to open a Zaniac in the Triangle is because of its place in the STEM-heavy Research Triangle Park. This Zaniac will be the Triangle’s first.
“There are a lot of job opportunities here and it’s a progressive environment,” he said. “That’s what we’re all about and we can help students find the jobs of the future.”
Zaniac is having their grand opening on Saturday, January 21, 2017 from 10 AM to 3 PM. Both Pepe and founder Paul Zane Pilzer will be there and people can meet and talk and learn about the programs there. Cary’s Zaniac is located at 1206 Parkside Main St.
Story and photos by Michael Papich.