Sunday, October 24, 2021

Innovation is the key to the future and the future is not optional! At Ma’ayanot STEAM education is part of the core curriculum—every student has two years of engineering, coding and 3-D design and printing built into their program. This year, Ma’ayanot is excited to introduce a new aspect to the sophomore course, taking STEAM education to the next level. The sophomore STEAM course will now include “Making a Difference,” a program which combines academic rigor, cutting-edge Makerpsace technology and chesed. Ma’ayanot has partnered with the University of Colorado’s Build a Better Book program, to use its Makerspace technology to create books, toys and games for children with visual impairments. Sophomore STEAM students will work with a teammate, a visually impaired student from a special education school, to design a device for their teammate. They will “beta-test” their prototype together with their teammate and ultimately produce a finished product that will improve their teammate’s life in a practical way.

To inaugurate the program, on October 5, students heard from Mrs. Raizy Hirth, an experienced educator and mother of a child with visual impairment, about the emotional, logistical and educational challenges she encountered raising a visually impaired child, and what device features and accommodations can help a child with visual impairment.

Throughout sophomore year, the STEAM course takes coding, 3-D printing, laser cutting and robotics to new levels under the leadership of Ma’ayanot’s dynamic STEAM teachers, Mrs. Gillian Cofnas and Mrs. Reyce Krause, director of STEAM curriculum. Students will also be mentored by consultants in engineering and 3-D design, as well as by special education specialists and doctors, including the mother of a current Ma’ayanot sophomore.

Students are very excited about “Making a Difference.” As sophomore Mia Polonetsky put it, “It’s such an amazing experience to be able to take the skills we’ve learned in STEAM and use them to help, and gain an understanding of, a child with visual impairment.” Added sophomore Talia Wallach, “I’m so excited to make something that will greatly influence someone’s life!”

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