May 22, 2024
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May 22, 2024
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“Make to Learn”- RYNJ Shmittah Style

This year, in culmination of RYNJ’s year-long focus on shmittah in all elementary school general studies classes, the third grade made their own miniature lawnmowers. This project corresponded to the third grade science unit on force and motion. Students learned about the different aspects of farming and how the Israeli farmers will have to go back to their farms once shmittah is over and begin anew.

The third-graders were taught about different types of simple machines that come together to form this more complex one by building them with woodwork. Home Depot was gracious enough to bring volunteers into the school to help work with the students to build. Their team provided each student with safety goggles, tools, smocks, and a token lawnmower-themed pin. They circulated throughout the room to help students with the technical aspects of building the machines.

Science Coordinator and third grade morah, Penina Richman, led the students in this creative maker project that enabled them to really “make to learn.” Students engaged in a hands-on activity that allowed them to reflect, as they built, on why machines work the way they do. Students used hammers, nails, screws and more to craft individualized machines to take home. Mrs. Richman remarked, “It was so amazing seeing the children engaged in such a high level of learning that incorporated all the scientific principles they had learned in their science unit this year. Having them think about the relationship between science and shmittah really enabled them to embrace shmittah in a meaningful way even living thousands of miles away from the farms of Eretz Yisrael.”

As Mrs. Levy, the general studies principal of the lower school, reflects on this year’s inquiry-based shmittah projects that have connected her students to the science of shmittah. She said, “There is nothing like watching students fully immersed in learning about science by doing and creating. Having students connect their experiences as Torah observant Jews with the science of everyday life has given them a proud understanding of their observance and taken their learning to a new level.” One student reflected, “I can’t believe I am actually making this myself!” Another student stated, “Learning about shmittah this year and science was so much fun!”

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