Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Let off steam and let in STEAM

It’s every kid’s dream of laser tag, arcade games, bowling, pizza and – refraction angles?

Welcome to the “Play Academy”, a mixture of energetic fun in the Main Event Family Entertainment Center and an accredited STEAM-based educational program.

Main event entertainment in Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales / )

“This is to add some joy to some of these intimidating learning topics,” said Cassaundra Bustamante, sales director at the Albuquerque Main Event. “It’s about having fun while studying, and it’s definitely something that also helps build relationships with teachers and students.”

STEAM – a concept of learning that uses science, technology, engineering, art, and math to teach students – is blended into the activities of the nearly 5,000-square-foot Main Event facility. The Play Academy program is a partnership between Main Event, STEM.org, a STEM research organization, and Big Thought, a nonprofit educational institution.

Launched on-site in August, the Play Academy is for educators who want an excursion that allows their students to let off steam in a traditional indoor amusement center while applying valuable math and science techniques that are useful for the students are often barely noticeable.

“Sometimes they only realize at the end that they are learning,” says Mandisa Marks, event coordinator at Main Event. She also proudly bears the title “Funcilitator,” she says with a laugh, adding that the enjoyable experience of the Play Academy enhances teaching in the classroom.

“This hands-on learning is the best way to learn. The students have this experience and are able to connect everything, ”she said. “It’s the easiest way to take a break from learning concepts that aren’t very interesting on paper or PowerPoint and bring them here to get hands-on experience.”

Schools can reserve Maine event excursions for first grade to high school students, the program directors said. The Play Academy program is broken down into the four main main event attractions – bowling, laser tag, arcade games, and pizza – to learn a variety of educational concepts.

Partnering with Main Event “enables us to offer standards-based excursions that teachers can trust, while showing youngsters that learning can be through fun, memorable experiences,” said Robert Jenkins, vice president of Sales and Strategic Initiatives in main event entertainment. “We are excited to open our doors to students in the community to show them that learning is everywhere.”

Byron Sanders, President and CEO of Big Thought, said the Play Academy program is “what 21st century education is about”.

“The Main Event team is visionary in this area,” he said. “It was such a good fit for our team to be involved, and we are delighted that young people across the country can immerse themselves.”

Main Event, a Dallas-based company founded in 1998, has 44 centers in 16 states across the country and serves more than 20 million people each year.

According to a press release on the main event, booking a Play Academy excursion requires a minimum of 10 participants and is subject to availability. Prices vary and activity options depend on class size and curriculum, the press release said. Labs can be booked individually or in a bundle. Visit mainevent.com for more information.

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