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“STEM” Education at Kadima: Preparing Our Students for the Future

US News and World Report recently published the article “STEM Education Is the Key to the US’s Economic Future.” In this article, they state “We need STEM-related talent to compete globally, and we will need even more in the future. It is not a matter of choice: For the United States to remain the global innovation leader, we must make the most of all of the potential STEM talent this country has to offer.”

STEM – the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is gaining a lot of attention at Kadima these days. We have equipped our classrooms with the supports needed to pursue STEM. As we peel back the layers of STEM, we find that there is a lot more depth to simply integrating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (and at Kadima, art and Judaic Studies as well!). We find that introducing students to problem-solving concepts are critical to succeeding in today’s world. This is at the core of any STEM based educational model.

The educational system as we know it today was founded on the ideals of the Industrial Revolution, which produced students who could work well in factories. Today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce, are expected to solve problems beyond the factory – they are handed a jumble of technologies (tablets/phones/gaming stations/computers) and interfaces (Mac/Windows/Android/iOS) and are expected to know how to navigate between them. Furthermore, students are required to think critically, analytically and “outside the box” as they problem solve. Our students travel globally and are expected to know how to navigate new cultures, languages and various levels of interactions. Yet, how are we preparing them for this new world?

At Kadima, we are doing this in several ways. One key way is our connection to the Schechter philosophy. The philosophy leads with the notion that an inquiry-based approach to learning stimulates critical thinking, and remains a cornerstone of true academic excellence. This pairs perfectly with STEM.

STEM integration supports students to succeed in all levels of academics and beyond. It creates “scientists” who investigate, “mathematicians” who solve and “engineers” who design and build; bringing together all aspects of STEM into a whole student capable of handling the challenges and questions that she/he faces on a daily basis. To take it even further, at every level of study, our students approach class projects from both a global perspective and a Jewish lens, recognizing that they’re part of something greater than themselves.

The concepts of STEM also extends outside the classroom. STEM is a mindset, a framework for being flexible, creative, humble and leadership-oriented. It prepares students to continually ask more questions and to never give up a project or idea simply because the first attempt failed. This mindset is something that Kadima, as a whole, incorporates in our classrooms, and hopes to expand upon in the future.

To ensure that we continue to be at the forefront of incorporating STEM concepts into our classrooms, Kadima’s Elementary and Middle School teachers specializing in math, science and technology participated in a recent workshop to further push the envelope on STEM integration in the classroom. Our teacher’s learning will better prepare Kadima’s students for a lifetime of learning, collaboration, and creativity while designing with science, technology and mathematics, and of course through our Jewish lens!

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