Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Our future innovative engineers will come from JAO

Jewish Academy of Orlando students develop problem solving and creative skills in the Innovation Lab, an elementary Makerspace, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) enrichment center.  As part of the school's curriculum, students learn the Design Thinking process, complete engineering challenges and pursue passion projects, using Computer Aided Design, Robotics, 3D printing, and coding.

Through Design Thinking, JAO students learn to problem solve using an iterative process. Design Thinking utilizes planning, communication, collaboration, revision, and reflection. The process can be applied to all areas of academics and also used for personal improvement.

"In today's achievement-focused world, students are rarely given a safe place to fail, learn from it, and improve to overcome the failure," stated Michael Hughes, director of Technology. "At JAO we believe that learning to overcome failure using iteration and creativity helps to develop a growth mindset. We are helping to build resilience and grit while fostering creativity in a fun and challenging way. These skills will help them be successful in future endeavors."

The Innovation Lab (or "iLab" for short) is a space where students of all ages regularly complete engineering challenges and apply technology to various subjects. The Innovation lab is filled with age-appropriate resources and materials students use to create, innovate, and problem-solve. The school integrates technology into literature by using robots for creative storytelling and the recreation of scenes from books they are reading in class. Starting in kindergarten students learn to program robots and apply those skills to complete challenges. Next year, the students in the new transitional kindergarten will also experience the resources of the Innovation Lab regularly.

Students learn programming concepts and begin to understand basic algorithms in kindergarten, by 5th grade students have a solid understanding of sensors, motors and practical application of robotics. Starting in 3rd grade students learn to use a computer aided drafting program to design objects in a 3D environment. Once they have successfully used the design process to create an object, it is printed using the labs 3d printer and the student takes it home.

"The pride and sense of accomplishment the students display when they see their creation go from virtual to physical is amazing!" Hughes added.

The Innovation lab is also a creative space where students can plan, design, and complete passion projects using state-of-the art tools such as robotics, programming, & 3D Design. The students learn about electronics prototyping, Video and Music production, and engineering challenges.

Hughes added, "We are fortunate to have such a dynamic space where our students not only have regular use of state-of-the art technology tools to create but also a space where they can learn problem-solving skills that they will use the rest of their lives."  

Jewish Academy of Orlando serves central Florida students of all faiths from grades kindergarten through fifth. The school delivers a whole-child education fostering academic excellence and character education rooted in Jewish values. Jewish Academy of Orlando is accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools. Beginning in fall of 2019, the school will offer a transitional kindergarten.

To learn more about Jewish Academy of Orlando, please visit: jewishacademyorlando.org or follow the school on Facebook facebook.com/JewishAcademyOrlando.


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