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Time for Science

(Front row, l to r): Samm Smith-Rapaport, Claire Peikes, Benjamin Shani, Samara Gordon-Wexler, Arielle Kessler, Izabella Raviv, Olivia Rotter & Anna Bielik; (back row, l to r): Gabriel Epstein; Stephen Bayer, Jewish Federation’s senior vice president and chief program officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford (JFGH); an unidentified woman; JFGH president and CEO Catherine Fischer Schwartz; Michael Johnston, CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation; Aron Mondschein, Zachary Goldberg; science teacher Susan Prihar.

(Front row, l to r): Samm Smith-Rapaport, Claire Peikes, Benjamin Shani, Samara Gordon-Wexler, Arielle Kessler, Izabella Raviv, Olivia Rotter & Anna Bielik; (back row, l to r): Gabriel Epstein; Stephen Bayer, Jewish Federation’s senior vice president and chief program officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford (JFGH); an unidentified woman; JFGH president and CEO Catherine Fischer Schwartz; Michael Johnston, CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation; Aron Mondschein, Zachary Goldberg; science teacher Susan Prihar.

Rogow Middle School students at the Solomon Schechter Day School in West Hartford wowed Jewish community leaders with their science projects, on display at the school’s recent STEM Science Fair. (STEM education is an acronym for the fields of study in the categories of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.)

Seventh graders exhibited their science experiments. Among them: Gabriel Epstein’s investigation of the effect of gender on heart rates while watching horror movies; Arielle Kessler’s study of whether people who watch TV directly before going to sleep have more trouble falling asleep than those who stop watching an hour before bed. (“If you watch TV an hour before you fall asleep, it’s a lot easier to do so than if you watch five minutes before,” said Kessler. “The exposure to UV light keeps your eyes and minds focused on what you saw on TV.”); Anna Bielik’s examination of how sugar and sugar substitutes range in sweetness; and Ben Shani’s attempt to determine whether smell impacts your sense of taste.

In addition to the Rogow Science Fair, the school’s fifth graders engaged in an engineering design process through which they created a useful device. New prototypes include: Sari Eisen’s Nosy Cozy – a stylish half mask that covers your nose when it’s cold – and Noah Lerner’s ball that helps alleviate stress. The project is a part of the Connecticut Invention Convention.

“We challenge our students to investigate their own questions and apply the scientific inquiry process through their experiments,” said science coordinator Susan Prihar. “Ultimately, they realize that they encounter testable questions all of the time in their daily life and have the skills to seek out answers.”

In response to the presentations, Michael Johnston, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation, said, “I was impressed with the school’s cutting edge approach to STEM education for the kids. The science fair was a wonderful integrated platform for 21st century educational ideas, but just as importantly, it was fun.”

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