There is no place quite like Arena STEM.
Located in the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, Arena STEM is an experience center where kids and adults can have fun while also learning STEM related skills. The space boasts an awesome array of games and learning experiences, from drones and boat racing to slot cars and VR. Entering it is like entering the coolest game arena ever, with eye-catching activity zones at every angle.
Arena STEM is the brainchild of Sergei Manevich, an entrepreneur who loves games and creating memorable experiences. As a kid he was a tinkerer, working with computers and always finding new ways to entertain himself. Arena STEM represents a merging of his interests, creating a home for all the things he enjoys, as a way to pass on that love of STEM to patrons and the next generation.
“People are always looking for experiences they can share together,” Manevich shared with the Jewish Link. “The idea behind Arena STEM came from my interest growing up, but it’s also a way to show people the fun side of critical thinking. When I was first creating the center, I knew there was going to be a lot of competitions, a lot of games, and it really all ties back to the educational side of it all. We want people to come here and have fun, but we also want them to learn something, too.”
Manevich comes from a long line of creative people: his father was a mathematician, as was his grandfather, and his great-grandfather was a rabbi. As a result, he has crafted unique games and experiences that everyone can enjoy.
STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, covers a wide array of topics. For Arena STEM, the main focus is taking these ideas and putting a fun spin on them. There is a big technical side to each of the activities, pushing patrons to use their minds to find unique and creative solutions to the situations they encounter.
“Arena STEM is a place where you’re going to do a lot of thinking,” said Manevich.. “When you’re playing one of our games, the staff pushes people to really think and try to find unique ways to conquer an obstacle. That’s one of the main things we try to do here, getting people to think critically and out of the box. It’s a good skill for anyone to have, and it’s something we really try to nurture here.”
Arena STEM has eight activity zones, including a rock crawling course, a flying field and an aqua course, which is used for sailboats and racing. When it comes to which activity zone he enjoys most, Manevich says it’s tough to choose.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite personally, but I have seen a lot of interest from patrons in our VR games and, of course, the drones,” Manevich continued. “Our staff has a number of ways that each activity zone can be used, and it can get quite competitive with some of the challenges. It’s a big thing for us: kids and adults alike love to compete, and a lot of our games are perfect for them to show off what they can do.”
And there’s still even more to come. While Manevich won’t give too many specifics, he said an archer course is scheduled to be the next new activity zone. In addition, he hopes to open more locations across the country.
“There’s a lot of things up in the air right now, but it’s all good stuff. “We’re really hoping to expand what the center can do and I think people are really going to like it. And if you’re thinking of coming down and checking us out, I hope you do. There’s so much cool stuff going on, and there’s really something for everyone. We’ve done our best to make the center accessible for everyone, and you’re sure to have a good time.”
Arena STEM is actively accepting bookings for birthdays and group events. To learn more about its offerings or to book an event, visit arenastem.com; email [email protected]; or call (201) 301-8144.
Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com.