STEAM Initiatives at Weber School Benefit All Students
Quite possibly the earliest champion of what we now call STEAM education (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math), was Moses Maimonides, the Sephardic philosopher, astronomer and physician who was one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In the 11th century, Maimonides urged that the disciplines of science and technology become essential cornerstones of Jewish education.
In this spirit, and with an explicit goal to share resources across the entire Jewish community, an exciting new STEAM initiative, The Daniel Zalik Academy, is getting off the ground at The Weber School. Launched this fall with a generous grant from the Zalik Foundation Fund, The Daniel Zalik Academy is a state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering, and design institute. It supports hands-on experimentation in engineering, digital, 3D, fashion and multi-media design, robotics, architecture and science research. Weber students have already had great experiences with the curriculum, which will “live” at Weber in something called an MIT-inspired “FAB LAB.” Construction begins this April and the completed lab’s resources will be available to students at all Atlanta Jewish day schools, day camps, congregations and more.
An MIT-inspired Fab Lab provides a platform for innovation and invention. With similar labs in more than 78 countries, the platform builds and shares connections to a global community of fabricators, artists, scientists, engineers, educators, students, amateurs, and professionals of all ages.
Rabbi Ed Harwitz, Head of School at Weber, sees nothing but potential in The Daniel Zalik Academy. He is particularly excited by the possibilities for students to work with leading scientists, designers and engineers through the Fab Lab network in Israel. “Through the network, students become members of an international science and technological innovation community. They’ll engage in collaboration beyond the confines of Atlanta, both with current professionals and future colleagues in Israel.”
Ammit Bezalel, a 9th grader in the 3D Modeling and Printing class, has put her new skills to work. “I have used the knowledge from this class to develop props for school plays and to explore my interest in modeling design. We used a software called Fusion 360 and I have found myself using it outside of class in my spare time. Most days I will ask my colleagues if I could 3D print something to make their student lives more convenient or nicer. For example, I am working with my friend Sarah Greenberg, who is a calligraphy artist, on a paperweight for teachers. The paperweight is designed to have the teachers’ name on it in a creative font. I have learned so much from this class and hope to explore my interests in it in the future.”
Micah Reich, a 10th grader, has been challenged by these offerings. “The core curriculum has allowed me to express my creativity and problem-solving skills through unique challenges in computer science and software development. For people interested in engineering, it’s a platform to explore mechanical and electrical design principles. As captain of the robotics team, I have used the fabrication resources and I look forward to having laser cutters and CNC machines next year.”
“This is a revolutionary educational model,” says Rabbi Harwitz. “The Daniel Zalik Academy will enable Weber to express its mission as a Jewish community high school in new and dynamic ways. We are proud to offer this distinct opportunity for learning and leadership for students at Weber and beyond, ensuring that the Atlanta Jewish community produces the next generation of ethically informed Jewish scientists, engineers, tech specialists and designers prepared to leverage their learning in way that serves our community and the broader world.”