HT Partners with the Museum of Science and Industry

post by Hillel Torah | Aug 14, 2017

For students at Hillel Torah, the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is not just a world-class cultural institution at their fingertips. It’s part of their curriculum.

The museum’s Science Leadership School Partners Program works with K-8 schools in the greater Chicagoland area to integrate a cross-disciplinary approach to science education. As the only Jewish day school in that cohort, Hillel Torah has provided its students with an unparalleled opportunity to enhance their STEM studies.

Hillel Torah began to implement this three-year program in 2016 through a collaborative and interdisciplinary team at the school using MSI guidance and tools.

“Part of the goal is to have students experience and think about science in innovative ways,” said Mrs. Anita London, MSI Coordinator at the school. London leads a group of ten administrators and teachers who evaluated, planned, and implement programming on a whole-school level.

Program changes have included:

Science Integration in Art, Gym and Social Studies

  • 1st and 2nd graders continued their understanding of organisms and animals through integrated art units
  • The 3rd grade class learned about the body’s defenses while racing around the gym
  • Using only toothpicks, 7th graders assembled creations of the Seven Wonders of the World

Hands-On Engineering Projects

  • 4th graders engineered race tracks to learn about potential and kinetic energy
  • 5th graders tested their understanding of volcanoes through a makerspace experience
  • To show how the heart works, 6th graders constructed working heart valves
  • Working with the school’s 3D printers, 8th graders created mini Newton’s Cradles to learn about the laws of motion

Science-Related Field Trips and Events

  • 1st grade explored the Shedd Aquarium as part of their organisms unit
  • The Grove brought animals to Hillel Torah as part of the 2nd grade curriculum

Class Pets

  • Through animal-focused grants, two leopard geckos and a hamster are the first of many animals to join our primary and middle school science labs. Aside from the social-emotional benefits, students interacted with the pets to understand how they develop, eat and sleep. They have started to help care for them as well.

This year, the cross-curricular learning is continuing. Hillel Torah’s fine arts instructor will be working with 1st and 5th grade classes to integrate science and art; gym and science will have even more integration, and even the Judaics department will be included, providing a diverse and cutting-edge experience for students.

Studies show that when science education is enhanced in a school, all other academic areas benefit as well.

“Hillel Torah students are already showing more enthusiasm for science because of this partnership with MSI,” London said.

Click here to find out more about the MSI Science Leadership School Partners Program.