Wednesday, April 01, 2020

West Orange—On February 18, Golda Och Academy’s 4th and 5th grade students put their love of engineering into practice during the lower school campus’ first STEM club meeting. The club, which has been made possible through a generous grant from the school’s Faculty Excellence and Innovation Fund as part of the Building on Tradition campaign, is led by science teachers Rebecca Kurson and Debbie Feldman.

The STEM club will focus on engineering projects taken from the Science Olympiad for 5th and 6th graders with the goal of completing four activities by the end of the year. Three of the projects will be group centered and one will be an individual project. These include clay boats, musical instruments, catapults and building a toy.

Kurson and Feldman worked closely with STEM coordinator Dr. Shira Kelmanovich to choose age-appropriate projects and how to execute them. To help students understand the idea of the STEM club, Feldman showed the 4th and 5th grade students a video of 7th grader Nadav S., who designed a bridge for the Science Olympiad.

The teachers also plan to bring in school parent and patent attorney Noam Kritzer for the last project, designing a toy. Kritzer had been talking with former lower school principal Gloria Kron late last year about STEM and the idea of an “invention convention” came up. “As a patent attorney, I thought it was a great idea and offered to help provide age-appropriate education to each grade level regarding innovation and protection,” said Kritzer. “You often hear students griping about their schoolwork, complaining, ‘Why do I need to study this subject? I am never going to use it in real life!’ An education regarding innovation and invention can provide a backdrop to students regarding the importance and relevance of STEM education in the real world.”

Additional goals for the club include using the 3D printer at the upper school and arranging a visit with the robotics club to allow the older students to explain the design of their robot.