April 15, 2024
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Idea School Holds Spring Exhibition of Student Learning

The Idea School’s last Exhibition of Student Learning took place this past Monday, June 12 at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades. The school’s project-based learning model was on display in a variety of complex projects and also featured an ambitious, cross-curricular final project, a LARP (Live Action Role Play) by the ninth and 10th graders.

During the spring semester, juniors at the school explored what is learned when investigating different perspectives. This was established early on in the semester with a reading of the novel “The Great Gatsby,” a work that makes fascinating and complicated use of point of view. For history class, as part of their learning about modern Israeli history, students produced a podcast called That Israeli Life, which had them conduct interviews with various Israelis who could offer them myriad perspectives of what it means to live in Israel today.

Juniors also did interviews with Idea School community members about their passions and hobbies, and as part of their Beit Midrash reading of Rabbi Sacks’ “A Letter in the Scroll” and conducted a survey on what being Jewish means to them and within the Idea School community. In chemistry, students researched the chemistry of addiction, through the lens of addicts, creating bios of them to make their struggles more real.

Ninth and 10th graders in Earth and Environmental Science researched an environmental challenge. Josh Rochlin, a member of the Hackensack River Greenway Advisory Board and of the local Jewish community, gave students feedback on their work. For Exhibition, students created presentations of their research and solutions and participants voted on which problem and solution they would want to solve first.

An interdisciplinary LARP with learning from literature, history and beit midrash was one of the school’s most ambitious projects to date. Students explored “Fahrenheit 451” and “Frankenstein,” the Scientific Revolution, as well as sources from Tanach, the Mishna and Talmud, and Responsa that connected to ethical dilemmas.

Students and teachers created four different interactive scenarios for the year 2100:

  • A Jewish community on the moon has an AI rabbi; A human rabbi is also on the spaceship and the community must decide whether to have an AI or human rabbi.
  • A bat mitzvah girl wants to get a prosthetic limb and not all her family members think it’s a good idea or halachically allowed. Since muscles start atrophying in space, would the surgery be elective or cosmetic?
  • A Jewish community is leaving the planet and setting up a community in space. Does it need to keep halacha, time-bound mitzvot, any mitzvot?
  • A murder takes place in a bio-dome created by a millionaire for humans when the earth lies in flames as a result of climate disasters. The millionaire has had a device created that can read minds. Should it be used to solve the murder?

Of course, Exhibition also featured beautiful art, music, clothing, podcasts and a host of additional projects that students created in their electives and passion-based workshop classes.

Mazal tov to all of the students on their impressive work.

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