STEAM Initiative

By: Mrs. Orly Nadler, Mrs. Gila Stein, Mrs. Reyce Krause
from Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School

Categories:
Development of Critical and / or Creative Thinking, Real-World Learning

Subject(s) of entry:
Art, Computer Science, Math, Science

Pedagogy:
IBL - inquiry based learning, Constructivist, 21st Century Skills

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
9th and 10th

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Middle school, High school

The Ma’ayanot STEAM initiative orchestrates a learning environment which fosters creativity and reasoning, compelling students to evaluate, ideate, prototype, test, and iterate . Our philosophy is one of Constructionism which shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as ‘building knowledge structures’ and adds the idea that this happens most pronounced in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing an entity. Students are forced to engage dynamically with their creations in order to prevail in the fruition of their design.

Entry Text

Overview of the New Ma’ayanot STEAM Program

The Ma’ayanot STEAM initiative orchestrates a learning environment which fosters creativity and reasoning, compelling students to evaluate, ideate, prototype, test, and iterate . Our philosophy is one of Constructionism which shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as ‘building knowledge structures’ and adds the idea that this happens most pronounced in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing an entity. Students are forced to engage dynamically with their creations in order to prevail in the fruition of their design.

In order to optimally succeed in an ever-evolving Information Age, today’s high school students must be equipped with a digital skill set that fosters creative problem-solving and innovation. Anything less will hamper their ability to professionally achieve at the highest levels. As an all-girls school, we believe that Ma’ayanot is uniquely positioned to encourage young women to feel inspired and prepared to pursue careers in STEAM related fields.

This past fall Ma’ayanot launched a new STEAM program designed to ensure that ALL Ma’ayanot students graduate with a comprehensive understanding of computer science and engineering skills and competencies. Other schools offer STEAM classes, but they are typically taken by self-selecting students who are motivated to choose STEAM electives or, in some cases, only by students who pass an entrance exam. Our inclusive approach, which requires all students to complete a two-year course in the foundations of engineering and computer science, is unique. It is predicated on the understanding that the critical thinking abilities and the concepts learned through this program are quickly becoming a basic 21st century skill set that must be developed in all students. Our program enables students at every level to succeed and develop their creativity and experimentation. It traverses the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics.

The key to creating a program that inspires and prepares students of all levels to confidently engage in STEAM experimentation (and ultimately to pursue STEAM careers) is a project-based curriculum that fosters innovation and creativity while helping students develop practical problem-solving skills.

Over the summer, we built a space for experimentation is called a makerspace. In this space, teachers collaborate and co-create and with students to find technological solutions to real-world problems; indeed, in this space students are encouraged to define the problems they would like to solve. This pedagogic method is informed by the MIT Makerspace Movement, whose stated mission is “to foster a student community in a hands-on learning environment where modeling, prototyping, and validation resources coexist.”

Our ultimate goal: by the end of this two year mandatory engineering sequence, every Ma’ayanot student will have a technological skill-set that allows her to believe: “I can create and I can make a difference in the world.”

An overview of Ma’ayanot’s four year STEAM sequence:

9th grade – Engineering I: Physical Computing (mandatory for all students)

10th grade – Engineering II : Applied Technology (mandatory for all students in the 2017-2018 school year)

11th grade – Computer Programming elective

12th grade – AP Computer Science elective

(NOTE: the above sequence is offered in conjunction with traditional math and science courses).

The mandatory 9th and 10th grade engineering courses are designed to provide students with a solid understanding of the engineering design process. Specifically, students will learn to identify problems, brainstorm for solutions, build basic models of proposed solutions (i.e., prototypes), and make improvements on those models.

In Engineering I (the 9th grade curriculum), the teacher highlights specific technology based problems and guides students toward solutions. Building on the fundamentals of engineering and programming mastered in Engineering I, Engineering II (the 10th grade curriculum) affords students significant latitude to identify real-world problems and conceptualize effective solutions to those problems. In addition, Engineering II aims to teach the basics of entrepreneurship, i.e., students will learn how to articulately define problems they have identified and to pitch the merits of their proposed solutions.

By the end of Engineering II, all students will have tackled an independent project of their choosing and will have gained a solid foundation in:

  • Engineering design process, Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking and analysis in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics
  • Circuitry
  • Bread boarding
  • Arduino programming
  • Fundamentals of computer science
  • Fundamentals of robotics
  • Fundamentals of biomedical engineering
  • Wearable technology
  • Basics robotics
  • Basics robotics
  • 3-D modeling and printing
  • Prototyping
  • Entrepreneurship