June 2, 2024
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June 2, 2024
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STEMming the Tide: Boosting Brainpower for Budding Einsteins

Jaffa Institute’s Science Mobile.

“For the first time, I feel truly engaged and challenged in my studies, especially in science,” said Moshe W., a 12-year-old living in the southern part of Tel Aviv. What parent doesn’t want to hear this from their child? Moshe’s family is one of the hundreds being assisted by a nonprofit that works in the greater southern Tel Aviv area. The Jaffa Institute (JI) is dedicated to empowering underserved communities in Israel through comprehensive educational and social support programs. In line with this mission, JI has created a STEM education program for all children and despite present challenges, the commitment to fostering innovation and opportunity remains steadfast, with a special focus on the Science Mobile Labs initiative.

Underprivileged children often lack access to quality education in science, technology, engineering and math due to limited resources, inadequate infrastructure and disparities in funding. In addition to the scarcity of STEM programs in those communities, a lack of local and accessible role models further hinders young students’ engagement and participation in STEM fields.

STEM education provides any underprivileged child with opportunities to break the cycle of poverty. It equips them with critical thinking, problem-solving skills and technological literacy essential for future success. Access to STEM education fosters innovation, opens doors to lucrative careers, and empowers young people to contribute meaningfully to society, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

Jaffa Institute’s Engineering Mobile.

The Jaffa Institute’s mobile units—picture a very large van/mobile home equipped with all of the latest technology, work stations and 3D printers—are a dynamic hub of exploration, delivering cutting-edge STEM education directly to communities that lack access to these programs. Staffed by passionate educators, the mobile labs inspire curiosity in young minds, regardless of their background or location. By bridging the gap in STEM education, JI is paving the way for a future where all students have the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century workforce.

Generally speaking, young girls are sorely underrepresented in STEM areas, due to a variety of reasons: There are societal expectations where boys are believed to be more suitable for STEM careers which then leads to a lack of female role models for girls. Cultural and family influences often play a role, with implicit or explicit messages that steer girls away from STEM fields or prioritize other career paths perceived as more suitable for them.

JI makes every effort to address these issues including promoting diverse role models, providing inclusive and supportive learning environments, challenging gender stereotypes, and offering equal access to resources and opportunities for all children. “Interacting with the teachers in the different mobile labs has been a real experience. Their guidance empowered me to learn and grow in ways I never imagined,” exclaimed Libby A., 12, when asked about the STEM mobile lab program.

Inside Jaffa Institute’s Mobile Computer Lab.

Overall, the mobile STEM vans reach about 2,000 children a year, traveling to all of the Jaffa Institute’s After-School Educational Enrichment Centers for at-risk youth in the greater southern Tel Aviv area (including Jaffa, Holon and Bat Yam) and to underserved public schools in impoverished neighborhoods throughout the country.

With Israel being one of the leading high-tech giants worldwide, more and more career paths are opening in STEM-related fields. Israeli innovation has shown that it can lead the way, with some of the most creative ideas in the world turned into reality. But without the workforce to make it happen, the ideas will remain just that—ideas.

Daniel D., age 9, said that “Mondays have become the highlight of my school week. I really look forward to the two hours spent in the Jaffa Institute’s mobile science lab. I truly cherish my time there.”

Jaffa Institute’s FoodTech Mobile van in an underprivileged neighborhood.

See a one-minute video clip featuring the ScienceMobiles on the Jaffa Institute YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vx2CYDHC2g

For more information about the Jaffa Institute: https://www.jaffainstitute.org. Jaffa Institute CEO Chezky Portowicz will be in the New York/New Jersey area at the end of the month if you are interested in learning more. Contact information is on their website.

Inside Jaffa Institute’s Mobile Engineering Lab.

Arnie Draiman is a philanthropic consultant helping people and foundations give their tzedaka money away wisely, efficiently and effectively. He is also an experienced social media and website guru, and enjoys reviewing restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. He can be reached at [email protected] or www.draimanconsulting.com


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