The new center in Forest Hills held an open house recently, welcoming parents and children to come and explore classes like Lego robotics and electronic game design.
De Chen, CEO and owner of Engineering For Kids, hopes to introduce children ages four to 14 to engineering in a fun and creative way, with the hopes of creating a science, technology, engineering and math enrichment program, also known as STEM.
“Parents want their kids exposed to things that they aren’t exposed to in school,” Chen said. “All of these things that we are teaching them at a young age, we are inspiring them to do this in the future. Normally, kids won’t get to see engineering classes until college.”
Along with engineering classes, the center also helps foster creativity, as they allow the children to decide what to build and design.
For example, in their electronic game design class, children create video game heroes and villains and even get to design the world or map for the program. The center also helps enhance children’s social skills through a series of hands-on learning activities.
“It helps them build friendships and it helps them with the concept of teamwork,” said Lupita Chen, program director and teacher for the center. “We always tell them that engineers don’t work alone. They have a huge team working with them.”
While the Engineering For Kids organization has over 60 locations throughout the United States, and even some internationally, this is the first center of its kind in Queens.
“There is a strong initiative by [President] Obama to push STEM because we are competing against China and India,” De Chen explained. “Obama is trying to push for more math and science, and a lot of schools want to incorporate STEM in their curriculum, but you don’t see it in the classroom yet.”
As they filtered in and out of the facility, each child was as eager as the last. “I’ll make sure to finish all my homework early on Wednesday,” said one child that signed up for a weekly afterschool class.
The Chen’s think their open house was successful, not only because kids registered for their classes, but because they were eager to learn engineering.
“Our idea behind Engineering for Kids was to inspire,” said Chen. “The kids are the reward.”