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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Students at the Maker Faire.

Ma’ayanot High School was proud and excited to inaugurate its new and innovative STEAM curriculum with STEAM Talks, a dynamic and fast-paced program that highlighted careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics). Modeled after the world-famous TED Talks, students heard from six women who are thriving in high-ranking STEAM positions. The inaugural STEAM team included: Michelle Kaufman, a Ma’ayanot alumna who earned a B.S. in Material Engineering at MIT, an Application Specialist of OTC derivatives at Bloomberg, LP; Rachel Gertler, a software engineer at Google; Adele Frankel, a patent attorney specializing in technology at WilmerHale Associates; Leah Isseroff Bendavid, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Vassar College; Ofra Weinberger, Director of Columbia University’s Office of Technology Ventures; and Shoshana Pasarel, freelance Animator.

The overall message of empowerment and enthusiasm for STEAM was apparent. Mrs. Orly Nadler, Director of Educational Technology and Co-Director of STEAM Education and Innovation, explained that “while the demand for jobs in STEAM has risen, the share of STEAM degrees earned by women has actually decreased over the past two decades. The best way to cultivate a new generation of women invested in STEAM careers is by exposing them to exceptional women who excel in their field.”

Following the Talks, students explored innovative hands-on booths at the Ma’ayanot Maker Faire. Students were engaged in robotic programming, crafted paper circuits, designed LED accessories, manipulated Arduino boards and applied algebraic functions to textile design. Representatives from Maker Depot, a makerspace located in Totowa, ran a booth that showcased 3D printed robots and 3D models.

Ma’ayanot students enjoyed the program and received its message loud and clear. As sophomore Arielle Borger noted, “I loved hearing the presentations and realizing that there are so many employment options out there for us, more than just medicine and law. STEAM opportunities are seriously limitless.”

The STEAM Talks was a powerful launch for the new STEAM curriculum that will be introduced next September (2016). The core of this curriculum is a two-year course in engineering, computer science, robotics and big data analysis, which will be required for all students in ninth and tenth grades. This course, which will be offered in conjunction with traditional ninth and 10th grade science and mathematics courses, will prepare students for advanced computer science and science research electives offered in 11th and 12th grades. Students who choose to take STEAM courses in all four years of high school will receive an Advanced STEAM Certificate, an accomplishment that will be highlighted on their official transcripts.

Ma’ayanot is pioneering intensive STEAM education for girls through programming and curriculum. As Mrs. Stein, Science Chair and Co-Director of STEAM Education and Innovation explained, “Ma’ayanot’s innovative STEAM program will give every student the opportunity to learn and think, question and solve, design and collaborate. Our goal is to empower and inspire our students to be sophisticated and visionary STEAM leaders of tomorrow.”