The Silverstein Hebrew Academy on Cutter Mill Road is launching an innovative, new STEM
(science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program designed specifically for middle school grades—the CIJE-Tech Middle School Program.
The Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (www.thecije.org), which provides and supports the implementation of programs that include engaging curriculum, teacher-training and advanced technology, is introducing the new CIJE program at 35 schools for the 2015-16 school year. The Silverstein Hebrew Academy is one of 20 New York Jewish day schools beginning the program.
In the CIJE-Tech Middle School program, students are provided with a challenging and rigorous program of study focusing on the application of STEM subjects as well as experience in teamwork, innovative-thinking and problem solving. Each class receives equipment and materials from CIJE and the teachers undergo specialized training to “reorient” how they approach class material.
“We focus on retraining teachers for a self-directed classroom and let student teams determine the best solution to a problem themselves,” explains Judy Lebovits, CIJE vice president and director. “This new program is going to give our Jewish Day School and Yeshiva students a greater advantage in STEM curriculum which encourages innovation, creativity and problem-solving. The CIJE-Tech Middle School program includes activities that improve student and teacher content knowledge and teacher pedagogical skills. Innovative strategies are employed, including small group collaborative work and the use of hands-on activities and experiments to promote inquiry and curiosity. Learning is connected to the real world through an emphasis on the application of STEM subjects to everyday life, employment and the surrounding environment.”
Throughout the year, students will apply their inventiveness and innovation skills in teams developing all types of products and machines. This ranges from advanced circuitry to bridge building to developing prosthetic limbs.
The CIJE-Tech Middle School program will also help students become better prepared for the already established CIJE-Tech High School Engineering program, currently provided in close to 50 schools nationwide. CIJE-Tech is a two-year course in scientific and biomedical engineering curriculum that prepares 9th and 10th grade students for careers in engineering, programming and advanced technology. Self-directed classroom study and hands-on interactive curriculum culminate in a year-end capstone project applying the STEM principles acquired in both CIJE programs.
“We’re excited that so many of the Jewish Day schools are incorporating this new program and establishing a consistent STEM program for middle school grades,” says CIJE president, Jason Cury. “We believe that our programs greatly exceed what students are getting in typical public middle and high schools and it shows in the caliber of universities that our graduates are attending.”
—Submitted by CIJE