Modern tech has gone a long way in making science education more fun for kids, and the new STEAM Works Studio in Livingston is bringing all the fun of robots, cartoons, Minecraft and more to its science, technology, engineering, arts and math classes.
STEAM Works launched its classes and camps in Princeton for kids 6-16, and recently has expanded with branches in Livingston, Parsippany, Edison and Bayonne. The menu of offerings reads like a cross-section of everything today’s kids love to do.
For kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade, STEAM Works has Nano Bots, which uses computer-connected LEGOs to teach kids the basics of robotics and coding. My son worked with his lab partners to build a motorized alligator that they hooked up to a laptop. Following along with a character-driven video, they used a simple block interface to program the alligator’s jaw to open and close on cue.
Older kids can take those basic STEAM concepts and move forward in a few different directions:
- Scratch (2nd through 5th grade) is focused on creating computer animations and games, mixing creativity and systematic thinking into fun projects.
- EV3 Robotics (4th through 8th grade) uses LEGO MINDSTORM kits for next-level robotics and programming.
- Minecraft Modeling (6th through 10th grade) starts with an interface every kid knows and lets kids learn actual Java coding to add in new designs and features.
- There are also classes in Squishy Circuits, Crazy Chemistry, Quadcopters and more subjects that stick the science education inside fun and creative projects.
STEAM Works has weekend and weekday classes, and there are birthday party options to mix in some fun tech with the cake and candles. For more dedicated STEAMers, the organization offers summer camps to keep brains sharp and engaged between school years.
After just an hour with the STEAM Works Nano Bots, my 1st grader clearly had no idea he’d just spent his time learning—he just knew he’d had a great time building and coding, and he was ready for more.