Zaniac Brings Play-Based STEM to Santa Monica

By Erin Mahoney Harris

enrichment - Zaniac

At the new Zaniac center in Santa Monica, enthusiastic high school and college students tutor and inspire elementary and middle school students and turn STEM learning into play. PHOTO COURTESY ZANIAC

STEM learning is all the rage these days, and its eponymous subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – have enormous potential for engaging learners in meaningful and rewarding enrichment. Zaniac taps into that capacity with its after-school centers in eight states throughout the U.S. In February, Zaniac opened its first California learning center in Santa Monica.

Zaniac’s founders set out to create a place where kids in kindergarten through eighth grade can have fun and make friends while learning about math and technology. Helmed by veteran video game marketer Tracy Williams, the Santa Monica center certainly delivers on that promise, offering programs involving LEGO robotics, Minecraft, 3D printing, digital fashion design, and computer programming.

Willams has staffed her learning center with brainy, enthusiastic high school and college students, giving them the opportunity to engage, tutor and inspire elementary and middle school kids in the disciplines they themselves are passionate about learning.

Lest you think that kids just sit around and play computer games in Zaniac’s Minecraft program, rest assured that the carefully designed program explores the subjects of navigation, engineering, physics and architectural design. By the same token, LEGO Robotics uses a popular childhood diversion to dive deep into the subjects of simple machines, the scientific method, robotics programming and environmental science.

Zaniac also offers its own custom mathematics program, Zane Math. Using software designed to create programs that uniquely suits each child, Zane Math is intended to get every child excited about the subject. Budding engineers will no doubt appreciate Zaniac’s hands-on tinkering program, which teaches kids to build and program everything from flashlights to circuit boards.

In addition to after-school programs, homework help and tutoring, Zaniac offers day camps during school breaks. Visit to learn more.

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