A few weeks ago, I found myself in a laboratory at Tufts University with about twenty day school educators designing a Lego chair for a stuffed animal. While this had something to do with my affinity for modeling with Legos, it had everything to do with an exciting new planning project taking place in Boston area Jewish day schools surrounding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Through a generous grant from the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust, fourteen area day schools have received planning grants to enable them to envision where and how changes might be instituted to lead to improved and increased emphasis on STEM within their schools. These schools have formed “STEM teams” made up of school administrators, teachers, and outside professionals who are actively engaging in analysis and planning for STEM in their schools. The ultimate goal is to enhance existing curricula and introduce new teaching approaches in STEM to inspire the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs.
Now…back to Legos.
The engaging session at Tufts that I attended was a working meeting for teams from each day school to discuss their current curriculum guidelines and strategize on methods for enhancing STEM instruction. To kick-off the meeting, educators were divided up into teams and charged with the task of building “A Chair for Mr. Bear”: a structure that would keep a floppy, stuffed animal from falling backwards, forwards, or to the side, and could also sustain the impact of being dropped from knee-height. This simple exercise jumpstarted a lively discussion on best practices surrounding teaching STEM subjects and how to integrate hands-on and “minds-on” learning into all subjects and grade levels.
This relentless pursuit of academic excellence is just one reason why many families choose day school for their child. Some are looking for small class sizes, nurturing environments and positive peer groups, while others seek an early second-language program. Still, some want an academic experience steeped in the Jewish tradition of critical thinking and ethical behavior. Many are drawn by the unique capacity of day schools to integrate every subject and every learning experience into a child’s Jewish identity. For a perfect example of this, read how students at MetroWest Jewish Day School celebrated Tu B’shvat with an innovative STEM project.
If you are considering day school for your child, you still have ONE WEEK to apply for CJP’s Discover Day School Program at www.DiscoverDaySchool.org and see if you are eligible for up to $18,000 towards three years of day school tuition!
The deadline is March 9th, so apply today!
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