Zaniac, an after-school enrichment campus, is now open in Jersey City at 125 1st Street in the Powerhouse District. A nation-wide franchise founded by Paul Zane Pilzer, the curriculum and its teachers work to get kids more interested in math and science while developing confidence and growing a real love of learning. The Jersey City campus is the 11th in the country and the first in New Jersey.
Zaniac asks the question, “Who says you can’t learn while you play?” which seemed to be the answer to a question Jersey City campus owner Sonali Pai often asked herself throughout her marketing career, wondering if math were made fun for her, if she were encouraged to engage, would she have gone down a different path? But now in Jersey City, her career is taking math and science head on and helping children get a headstart with a STEAM approach–science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
Ms. Pai has worked for GE, JP Morgan, Amazon, and, most recently, was the CMO of Aspire Pharmaceuticals, but living in Jersey City and witnessing thousands of new apartments coming online, she identified an immediate need and sincere passion for an educational venture like Zaniac. She wanted to be a contributing partner to her community and offer more solutions for neighborhood kids.
Providing an essential edge for 21st Century children, much of the curriculum is rooted in digital technology and game-based learning to teach math and science concepts. Custom lesson plans and a 5:1 student to teacher ratio make the challenge of coding a game in Python or understanding mechanics and design through LEGO Robotics fun for every student; playing Minecraft, tinkering with hardware, or designing with 3D modeling software are just some of the hands-on teaching techniques that are more than preparing students for their futures.
Zaniac focuses more on the why rather than the what which gives children the chance to really grasp concepts, enjoy learning, and according to Ms. Pai, they never want to leave. Teachers are high school, college, or graduate students with a marked level of proficiency in their subject. They are also trained on-site and it’s a unique experience for students, enabling them to become teachers.
The Zaniac campus is also available for events and Ms. Pai is working on a number of local partnerships. Officially opened on June 3rd, they have had phenomenal early enrollment, the highest of any location, and half week or full week Summer Camps are in full swing. Ms. Pai is thrilled to be among the small businesses shaping Jersey City and thrilled still to be making math and science fun. She talks excitedly about the myriad career paths ultimately available to Zaniac kids: music engineer, graphic designer, coder, the possibilities are endless!