April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

STEM Energizes Thinking at RPRY

Why would this design better support agriculture? Why should we build the launcher with this design? How will this change impact the outcome? Science and engineering represent key components of an RPRY education. Beginning at an early age, RPRY students engage in the inquiry process, asking great questions and exploring possible answers through the robust RPRwhy? STEM program. Students have opportunities to explore and experiment with materials and ideas in order to generate hypotheses and plans. The students are twenty first century learners preparing for future careers in science, technology and mathematics both by having the exposure to critical ideas and opportunities to collaborate and problem-solve. Each grade includes large scale engineering design projects. RPRY is grateful to the Cypress Family Foundation and the Center for Initiatives in Jewish education for their funding and support under the leadership of STEM educator, Sari Shalmon.

Imagine typical 6 and 7 year olds engaged in collaborative play. Young children learn a tremendous amount through play, including scientific principles! The first graders recently completed an engineering design project where they designed ramps to allow their toy cars to roll as far as possible. The students learned how to plan and implement their design, work cooperatively with one another and most of all, the important lesson that modifying their designs over and over again will help them become more successful. The students successfully built their ramps, allowing their cars to roll over 15 feet!

Another snapshot of the program could be seen recently by visiting the fourth grade. The fourth graders delved on a robotics units for two months. They worked with Cubelets to design and build their own robots. Cubelets are processor blocks (sensors, action cubes and think blocks) that students connect to produce robots that will SENSE, THINK and ACT. Their final design project was to build a useful robot. Each group has an original plan and then the students had the opportunity to present their inventions to the second grade classes.

Sixth grade crackled with electricity as they culminated a unit on circuits. The students designed and built their own electronic games, similar to such famous games as Operation, Follow the Path and Steadiness Tester Game. They then had the opportunity to present their creations to the fourth grade.

Meanwhile, busy seventh graders completed two STEM units and an engineering-based observational trip. The robotics continues to be more sophisticated in seventh grades, as the students designed and built robots using Lego Mindstorms. They then competed against each other with the robots they built and programmed! Subsequently, the students were invited to join and compete in the FLUOR Science Challenge, where the students had to design and build a volleyball game using limited materials. They competed against Moriah School’s middle school STEM classes in collaboration with CIJE, the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education. As a culmination of their robotics unit, the seventh grade boys visited Amazon Fulfillment Center to see how Amazon uses robots for their operations and logistics. Concurrently, the girls in seventh grade were invited to attend the Young Women’s STEM Conference at Princeton University, where they watched a chemistry performance, heard inspiring discussions from female scientists and were able to participate in numerous hands-on scientific activities. What an incredible opportunity!

The expert eighth grade coders created images, animations and exciting games. Students exhibit comfort in the coding environment, as they as they use the CIJE JAVA-based coding curriculum as a springboard. By graduation, through the vast STEM programs happening at RPRY, RPRY students have a rich and deep appreciation for the sciences.

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