Inspiring Young Inventors
By Vivian Henoch, Editor myJewishDetroit
August 1, 2014
3-D printing made national headlines in July when engineering students at the University of Central Florida built a prosthetic arm for Alex Pring, a 6-year old boy. In the words of Albert Manero, one of the students whose design can now help Pring open and close his hand and hug his mother with both arms, “we’re supposed to help change the world.”
Hillel Day School students will get an introduction to this kind of radical problem solving beginning this school year with the dedication of the school’s Audrey and William Farber Family IDEA Collaborative, a hub for innovation that includes a maker space, where technology can be used to make things that did not exist before, new science and art labs, an audio/video studio and greenhouse.
Building young engineers, creating inventors
Flexibly designed to foster collaboration and small group learning, the hub will enable students to tinker with technology in ways that previously were unimaginable.
“The sky’s the limit in what we will be able to do, from turning recycled T-shirts into rugs, and creating symphonies,” said Trevett Allen III, the school’s new Director of Innovation. “The things that we’re going to do digitally will have real life application. They will hold it in their hands and use it. And what they do now will be the connective tissue. They’ll take it with them into the real world.” As Judaic Studies teacher Ariel Wolgel explained, students learning about Moshe being sent down the Nile River in a basket of reeds will now be able to grow reeds in the school’s greenhouse, and design online and create their own prototypes.
Head of School Steve Freedman says the IDEA Collaborative is the “achievement of our dream” to help children grow in ways that will best prepare them for the world they are inheriting. Increasingly, job seekers entering the workforce will create rather than find jobs. A learning environment that optimizes the spirit of invention, while grounding students in their Jewish tradition of Torah and mitzvot, paves the way for 21st-century Jewish citizens who will make a difference in their communities and careers.
A legacy gift
Freedman is grateful for the Farber family’s “transformative gift.”
“It is a testament to the confidence our partners have in the mission and vision of Hillel Day School and its critical role in ensuring a vibrant future of the Jewish community,” he said. Other enhancements resulting from the Farber gift include a new cafe and three new kitchens. The Farber family’s gift to Hillel Day School is made possible by their gift to The Centenntial Fund, the Jewish Federation’s primary vehicle to secure our community’s strength for generations to come.
The IDEA Collaborative is the latest in a series of innovations the school has implemented in recent years, including a Robotics curriculum and a 1:1 technology program for grades 5-8 that increases STEM literacy and puts a laptop into every student’s hands, and the placement of two teachers per classroom in grades K-4 to differentiate instruction. In the area of affordability, the new Davidson Tuition Grant program reduces financial barriers to entry by celebrating a family’s commitment to Hillel: for every year a child attends Hillel, a family receives a credit against tuition, culminating in an $8,000 credit against eighth grade tuition for families whose children enrolled in first grade.
Now in its 56th year, Hillel Day School, located in Farmington Hills, boasts 450 students from preschool through eighth grade.
“Our mission is to inspire a passion for learning, responsibility to self and community, and devotion to Jewish living in a warm, innovative and engaging environment,” Freedman said. “This year, with the transformation of our physical space, that will be especially true. We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on.”
The entire community is invited to the dedication of the Audrey and William Farber Family IDEA Collaborative on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 7:00 p.m at Hillel Day School, 32200 Middlebelt Road, Farmington Hills, 48334.