Hadar Bet Yaakov paired with the national ORT STEM program this year to produce a challenging, rigorous STEM program for their students. Dr. David Kenani, President of US ORT Operations and the ORT STEM Program, together with Ms. Irit Tzemah, created an upscale, competitive STEM program focused on giving students a genuine computer science and engineering experience.

Ms. Chayala Friedman, HBY STEM teacher, emphasizes teamwork and project delivery, reflective of modern workplace technology culture. After attending over 70 hours in ORT’s Teacher Training program, Ms. Friedman led girls in deconstructing computers, identifying components such as the RAM (random access memory), the CPU (central processing unit), hard drive, motherboard, and heatsink. She then used the Periodic Table to discuss chemical interactions on a micro scale to introduce to simple circuits including LED lights and resisters. During this introduction to programming, the student task objective was to build a simple circuit that turned an LED light on. Using cable wires, resistors, and an LED light, students built simple circuits that were powered by their Raspberry Pi microcomputers. Girls learned several commands, which they then used to create code to cause their LED lights to turn on, off, and blink within a continuous loop.

Ms. Friedman also introduced the girls to PowerPoint animations where the girls were tasked to create their own Purim-themed videos. All STEM classes incorporate project-based learning, where girls work in groups for the duration of the year-long course that fosters inclusiveness for all team members.

Ms. Irit Tzemah, Coordinator and mentor for ORT STEM, teams up with Ms. Chayala Friedman weekly, where they both facilitate student teams as they work through projects. Over the course of the two-year program, students learn how to design basic websites using HTML, C++, and Java Script. “This is a challenging program to work through for ninth graders,” commented Ms. Friedman, “but we give them a lot of instruction and support so it’s do-able for them.”

Ms. Tzemah developed ORT’s detailed teacher training program, which equips teachers with the skill set needed to get students immersed in a series of projects using what they’ve learned to problem-solve and troubleshoot. The curriculum culminates with a web-design project, where the various ORT STEM participant schools compete against one another for best design. It’s an ambitious and demanding end goal that Hadar Bet Yaakov girls are excited to meet.

By Shoshanna Friedman