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Putting the "J" in J-STEAM

By Carina Rock | JSTEAM | 0 Comments | 02 April, 2019

In 2009, the "Educate to Innovate" campaign was announced by the Obama administration to motivate and inspire students to excel in STEM subjects. STEM was created as an interdisciplinary approach to apply science, technology, engineering and math toward real world projects, infusing learning with new excitement and grounding the often-abstract aspects of math and science into hands on activities that make sense to students. The Rhode Island School of Design added the “A” to stand for Arts and Design, advocating for emphasis on creativity and innovation. 

STEAM, not only crosses curricula, it crosses “the brain divide” and inspires projects that stimulate both left side and right side brain activity through focusing on a STEAM goal. This approach has helped teachers and students to see how STEAM subjects play a part in their everyday lives and has created relevance and accessibility for this generation of learners. By adopting STEAM as a method of teaching, we have created an interconnected model of understanding the world. We have made the intangible tangible and given every student the tools to start growing from a place that only few used to attain after years of study. 

Through Jewish Interactive’s partnership with Kellman Brown Academy, working to integrate Judaism into their STEAM curriculum, Ji has inspired the term J-STEAM. Judaism is all about interconnectivity. The concept of one G!d teaches us that all of creation is connected to its Creator. Through adhering to this concept, Jews have popularized ideals such as “Tikkun Olam” and the “Golden Rule”.

“״ואהבת לרעך כמוך “love your neighbor as yourself”. In fact, most concepts in Judaism come from our interconnected nature, the importance of community, helping others “״חסד and respecting animals צער בעלי חיים״” to name a few. Jewish education is always striving to create a reality where Jewish learning is relevant for its student’s lives, that Judaism’s inherent interconnected nature reaches beyond the classroom and into the fabric of every student’s day to day. By teaching J-STEAM, educators are not only exporting Judaism outside of the school, but schools are importing the world into their Jewish teaching.

Jewish Interactive creates Jewish EdTech tools and offers support for J-STEAM. This March at the Prizmah Conference, Ji together with CIJE, curated the J-STEAM Lab. The Lab featured a “Makerspace”, “J-STEAM VR”, a “Drop-In-Zone” and J-STEAM Cafe where participants were able to recharge, and explore the J-STEAM Menu. The space also hosted talks and mini sessions about pedagogy and the administrative side of J-STEAM, throughout the three-day conference.

Jewish day school administrators, teachers and lay leaders were able to explore the 3D printer, laser cutter, VR adventures in Israel and Ji Tap. “Ji Tap” is Ji’s platform and app which houses over 8,000 games and a “Game Creation Tool” for educators and students to make their own interactive game or lesson. Participants had the time to dream about what bringing J-STEAM to their school would look like. Participants took the time to explore J-STEAM projects using tech, like CIJE-Bytes, Micro:bits, CodeMonkey, Kano Kits and more to have hands-on experience of J-STEAM and get a sense of how their dreams can become reality.

By educating Jewish education professionals about J-STEAM and by creating Jewish EdTech, Jewish Interactive is facilitating the growth of the J-STEAM mindset. J-STEAM is not just a curricular modification but a culture. By using cutting edge technology, which pushes teachers and students to think and create in an interconnected manner, J-STEAM education is not only using current modes of communication in order to communicate to today’s youth, but is also making a statement about relevance and Jewish Identity.

When you become a Ji J-STEAM school, you are affirming that the Judaism you represent is an innovative Judaism that responds to today's unique educational needs, utilizing Jewish Studies and Hebrew as the catalyst to the interconnected thinking that fuels J-STEAM creativity. This emphasizes that Jewish identity is not “other” to modern day advances, but intrinsic to its existence and essential to its success. J-STEAM caters to the whole child, to his social connection, to her down time, to each child’s relationship to the past, present and emerging future. A J-STEAM school culture allows students to use their individual strengths to give to the whole, to see themselves as part of a team of Jewish innovators and entrepreneurs, creating something meaningful in the lives of their peers and for the wider community. 

Opening the doors to J-STEAM gives schools the opportunity to share innovation with their community and become a central hub of innovation.

Ji has a full J-STEAM curriculum available online for schools to access and this will be added to regularly.

The Ji team is thrilled to announce our US-based J-STEAM director Jarred Matas who will be available for consultation and training from May.

If you would like to learn more about Jewish Interactive, J-STEAM and/or Ji Tap please contact us through our website https://www.jewishinteractive.org/.

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Carina Rock

Written by Carina Rock

Carina Rock is the West Coast Director of Jewish Interactive. She has a Masters in Jewish Education and a BFA in Painting and Digital Media. Jewish Education has been the center of Carina’s career for over 20 years. She has worked as a day school teacher, synagogue leader and founded the Jewish Women’s Mosaic, a program highlighting local leadership, Jewish learning and the creation of high art. Carina’s work at Jewish Interactive is a vital part of building a healthy and vibrant generation of educated Jewish children led by fulfilled and inspired teachers. As an artist, Carina enjoys illustrating children’s books, painting the ocean and facilitating Jewish art experiences including student-led outdoor classrooms and educational installations. Carina’s activity in the art world fuels her work with Ji, where she provides consultation to schools, parent and student programming, and professional development that focuses on the gamification of student centered, Hebrew and Jewish education.

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