Temple Israel of Great Neck nursery school and pre-kindergarten students experienced a unique learning experience when they had the opportunity to combine knowledge of science and Torah in the congregation’s recent 14th Annual Torah Science Fair.
The students in the Beth HaGan Nursery School presented class projects at the fair depicting a wide and varied spectrum of knowledge that the children had been working on for several months, with the guidance of their teachers. The concept of Torah U’madah, Torah and science together, is age old. Beth HaGan teachers have expanded on the theory of bringing together the scientific and Judaic world, and in doing so have taught their students to make new associations and to internalize new forms using a tactile-sensory hands-on approach.
Exhibits included “Joseph and His Amazing Coat,” looking at the origins of natural fibers. The children “grew” fabric, and each child wove his or her own colored coat on a loom. A professional spinner and weaver, who often appear at the Queens County Fair Museum, visited to show students how to turn wool into sweaters and flax into fabric.
A class of three-year-olds explored the solar system. The Starlab Planetarium visited the school, helping children understand the night sky. Each child made his or her own solar system, constellation and planet.
Exhibits by the toddler classes included “Noah’s Ark and Buoyancy,” “Moon Exploration” and “The Plant Cycle.” Classes of three-year-old children paired the Tower of Babel with construction in the modern world.
The Pre-K classes depicted the famous Purim story of how Mordechai overheard two palace guards plotting to kill Achashveirosh and subsequently saved the king’s life. A parent who is an ear, nose and throat surgeon visited a classroom to teach children how people hear.vThe doctor was overwhelmed at the extent of knowledge the children displayed about the ear and its many parts.
Many exhibits were interactive with games and activities for children of all ages. The classes posted experience charts showing how they hypothesized and then proved or disproved their theories. They related what they thought and then what they knew.
The Beth HaGan Nursery School is one of three schools operated by Temple Israel. The congregation also has an after-school religious school and the Waxman High School and Youth House. For further information about the schools call 516-482-7800 or visit www.tign.org. Temple Israel, the region’s largest Conservative Jewish congregation, is located at 108 Old Mill Rd.