AFAH School-Based STEM Program
AFAH’s STEM (Science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative is an innovative, engaging classroom curriculum that partners with Jewish schools and the ALYN Hospital Innovation Space. The program fosters an understanding of children with physical disabilities within a design-thinking, project-based learning framework.
The partnership with ALYN’s Innovation Space gives the students in the program real-world experience. Students design and create prototypes to help solve the actual challenges faced by patients at ALYN Hospital, which when implemented, helps them be more independent with normal daily activities.
The students receive feedback from PELE (Hebrew for wonder,) the track within the Innovation Space that creates personal solutions for children undergoing rehabilitation not only at ALYN Hospital but also at other hospitals in Israel and around the world.
Current schools involved in the STEM program include:
- SAR Academy in Riverdale, New York
- Solomon Schechter of Bergen County in New Milford, New Jersey (3rd year)
- Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills, Michigan
The students get so much more out of this program than just advancing their STEM knowledge and skills. The curriculum, based on Jewish values, helps students to become more empathic and inclusive of people who are differently abled.
One solution already developed through this program is the creation of a board game that allows a boy who is blind to join in his family’s evening fun. Another is for a teenager with extremely limited use of her arms who is now able to read and turn the pages of her sidur (prayer book) and other books on Shabbat because the device doesn’t require electricity.
The students have been presented with a number of challenges this year. Amongst others, they will try to help:
- Yifat, who wants to feed the fish in the large aquarium at ALYN, but is not able to stand on her own to reach the opening
- Yaron, who wants to fry his own egg, but lost his fingers in an accident and is not able to hold the handle of a frying pan
- Lina, who wants to apply her own lipstick, but is not able to use her arms and has limited head movement.
If your school might be interested in participating in this STEM Challenge in the future, please contact Erica Skolnick in the AFAH office for more information.