Waterbury girls high school launches new nationwide STEM program

WATERBURY – Bais Yaakov of Waterbury High School has introduced into its curriculum a new program and implemented nationwide by the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE).

The all-girls yeshiva high school is among only 56 schools nationwide selected to initiate the innovative CIJE-Tech High School Program, the goal of which is to introduce students to the fundamentals of engineering and the design process needed to gain STEM skills, coupled with experiential learning in teamwork, innovative thinking, and problem solving.

Through the program, students work in teams to develop various types of devices and machines – ranging from advanced circuitry and bridge building to developing prosthetic limbs. Self-directed classroom study and hands-on interactive curricula culminate in a year-end capstone project directed at applying the STEM principles to engineering a solution to a problem that might improve some facet of society. Learning is connected to the real world through an emphasis on the application of STEM subjects to everyday life, employment, and the surrounding environment.

“We’re preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist using technologies that haven’t been invented in order to solve problems we don’t even comprehend yet,” says CIJE President Jason Cury. “CIJE programs greatly exceed what students are getting in typical public middle and high schools and it shows in the caliber of top-tier universities our graduates are attending.”

More than 50 schools nationwide also offer the CIJE-Tech Middle School Engineering program in which students take part in an integrated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum for K-12 Jewish day schools across the denominational spectrum in more than 180 schools nationwide.

“In addition to providing equipment and materials, CIJE mentors with in-depth and applied STEM experience from industry, guide the curriculum and mentor the teachers,” said CIJE Vice President/Director Judy Lebovits. “CIJE provides extensive teacher training and reorients them to a student-centered classroom, focused on inquiry and project-based learning. Throughout the year, CIJE sends teachers to Israel to meet STEM academics, entrepreneurs and leaders of successful companies that have played a part in the “Start-up Nation.”

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