March 3, 2024
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Ma’ayanot Sophomores Combine Engineering With Empathy

Ma’ayanot’s sophomore STEAM course, a core curricular requirement, is dedicated to using coding and fabrication to design and create a project for a specific child with visual impairment. On November 1, Ma’ayanot brought 65 sophomores, divided into 27 groups, to the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence (SCHI) in Lakewood, New Jersey. Each group, partnered with a student at SCHI, visited classrooms where the SCHI students were in sessions with therapists and teachers, and were able to observe and interact with their partners. Each Ma’ayanot group also met with its partner’s team of therapists to gather information to help them design and create a device unique for their partner child. Tenth grader Temima Weissmann reflected, “The staff at SCHI was so invested in the students and the kids were so happy! It’s a special opportunity to build something that will help them in their daily lives.”

Reyce Krause, Ma’ayanot’s director of STEAM curriculum, said, “It was incredible to watch our students enthusiastically share their ideas with each other and the therapists, and act with such emotional maturity. Everyone at SCHI was so impressed with our students. A mother of a SCHI student told the Ma’ayanot students how moved the whole Lakewood community is to see our girls giving of themselves and their knowledge to help these special children.”

In a similar vein, Ma’ayanot’s 11th grade STEAM elective students will be working with Elmwood School in East Ramapo and the Jewish Home at Rockleigh. This program is facilitated by Ma’ayanot parent Jennie Jacobson, who teaches visually impaired children at the Elmwood School, and alumna parent Sunni Herman, COO of the Jewish Home. Ma’ayanot students will be designing and making assistive devices for the students at the school and the elders at the Jewish Home, guided by Ma’ayanot STEAM instructor Gill Cofnas. Science Department Chair Gila Stein explained: “Our students will be advancing their STEAM skills while working on empathy and doing chesed. What could be better?!”

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