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TABC Inaugurates New Makerspace With Mezuzah Dedication

On Wednesday, January 9, Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) inaugurated their Makerspace, a beautiful, new state-of-the art venue in the building for engineering and other science classes. With attendance including staff and parents, the ceremony was led by Head of School Rabbi Asher Yablok, engineering teacher and STEM coordinator Aryeh Tiefenbrunn and chair of the Tanach department Rabbi Howard Jachter. A wine and cheese reception accompanied the event, followed by a short program and tour of the space.

The school’s Makerspace officially opened at the beginning of November. In the time since, students have been able to use the space, which includes state-of-the-art equipment, such as a 3-D printer and an assortment of different tools and electrical equipment, for their schoolwork and recreation. On hand at the event was even a working electric ukulele that had been printed there by the students. Tiefenbrunn, who was also one of the designers of the room, explained in an interview with The Jewish Link that students have eagerly taken to using the space to explore their studies and hone their creativity. He hopes they will continue to use it to come up with new ways to better enhance the world.

“We’re hoping our students take from the Makerspace the concept of having an idea and using it to help the people around them,” Tiefenbrunn shared. “When they come into the room they are going to see high ceilings, wide walls and open windows, representing our vision that what students learn and do in the space should apply in a broader context to their lives. It’s been so great how we’ve had students who might not have otherwise been interested in STEM coming in because they saw the space and wanted to learn more about it. I’m really happy with how things have been turning out.”

Putting in the Makerspace was a project that had been in development for a number of months. The process involved the school working with a STEM consultant and interior designers to work out what was needed and how to put all the different pieces together. The windows, which open into the hallway, were specifically designed to encourage students to feel welcome and a part of it. Rabbi Yablok elaborated that putting it together was an extensive and rigorous operation, but one well worth it.

“Today [was] an opportunity for parents to come in and see a project come together that we’d been working on and see how it’s coming to life and what we’ve been using it for,” Rabbi Yablok shared. “The Makerspace started with a vision to find a proper home for our engineering program as well as to improve and grow our science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. We really wanted to create something that would allow our students to feel like they have a place where they can explore a concept or new idea that they otherwise would have maybe passed on. We could never have gotten to this place without the very generous support of several TABC families who had the faith in us and the vision to donate the seed money to build this space and develop our STEM curriculum. TABC gratefully appreciates the generous Legacy Learning Labs matching challenge grant made possible by a prominent national foundation to help build this new beautiful state-of-the art Makerspace. As we look to expand our program, engage more faculty and integrate STEM across our broader curriculum, we are continuing to look for partners in this area.”

The mezuzah used in the inauguration was printed by students in the Makerspace. In the time since its opening they have taken to decorating and personalizing the room with their creations, such as the words “TABC MAKERSPACE” hanging over cabinets. Seeing the students really enjoy their work and making the room their own is what’s been the most rewarding part of the process for Rabbi Yablok.

“We want every one of our students to be exposed to a proper foundation in the STEM disciplines, but more importantly, whether or not they end up pursuing a career in engineering, coding or circuitry and robotics, we want them to really feel like they have an outlet for their creativity,” Rabbi Yablok continued. “We’re so grateful for the supportful donors who saw this vision, and I’m excited for the direction this takes us here at TABC. Our identity is founded on a balance of being rigorous in everything that we do, and watching every one of our departments grow like this one makes me excited about the fact that if a student comes here, they will be exposed to the very best.”

By Adam Samuel

Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at adamssoapbox.com.�

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