STEAM at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
The new JBHA STEAM program is a Project Based Learning program built around a state of the art “Innovation Lab” where students are encouraged to work together and take risks in order to innovate and make new things that improve the world around them. Its purpose is to teach students how to think as well as how to fail. All great innovators have one thing in common, their ability to learn from failure and to treat failure as a necessary step to success. STEAM is a learning experience that will foster critical and creative thinking skills where asking questions and problem-solving are more important than finding the “right” answer.
Advances in technology today make traditional ways of educating students more challenging than ever. We have instant access to information at our fingertips, machines that compute at incredible speeds, and the ability to communicate in ways that we never could before. These advances are leveraged in the workplace to increase productivity every day. JBHA must respond to these changes by creating a learning environment for our students that prepare them for the challenges that they will face as they enter into a workforce that is increasingly dependent on technology and places a great deal of value on innovation. This new direction for education has been recognized by the Next Generation Science Standards(NGSS) as is evident in the new engineering standards now in place. A major goal of JBHA is to empower students to develop the skills that prepare them to succeed in the 21st Century and life.
The STEAM program is a school wide initiative to integrate Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Technology, and the Arts. An Innovation Center featuring a 3D printing lab, is stocked with fabrication tools and equipment in an effort to support this multifaceted program.
The JBHA STEAM program’s pilot year is designed to enable students to view technology in a very different way. The students will be encouraged to become familiar with the new innovation lab environment and with the 3D printing opportunity that it offers.
STEAM engineering electives have been created to support the program, and cater to students in grades 6 – 10, and 12 in STEAM related topics to participate in hands on learning activities in our new Innovation lab. Currently, approximately 75 students are enrolled in these electives. Electives meet three or four times per cycle. A senior engineering class that meets every day is also participating.
In the middle school these electives will focus on introducing basic electronics using LittleBits and basic coding using Lego Mindstorm robotics, as well as basic 3D printing. The high school electives will be implementing more advanced applications of the same technologies in grade 9 and build to more challenging platforms for electronics, design, coding and robotics using the Arduino microcontroller and SolidWorks design software for 3D printing.