Gathered in groups of four students per work table, Yeshiva Ketana students in the Gruss Science Lab observe, manipulate, and experience science. They work as teams, asking questions and using the inquiry process to live science and understand the scientific principles behind our world.
Science is the study of how the world works. And while that can be described in lectures and books, true scientific study leads to real understanding when science is experienced. This kind of experiential study happens every day at Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island where boys in grades one through five enter the laboratory to learn how the world works. “The more we learn about the world, the more we can appreciate Hashem's world,” says Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, YKLI science lab instructor, with 14 years in the olam hachinuch. “From the moment the students enter our laboratory, they are interacting, manipulating, exploring, measuring, looking through microscopes, and calculating or comparing data on our SMARTBoard. Our talmidim don't see science as a subject, they see it as life.”
Throughout the week, the lab is busy as classes are scheduled to come and explore. A variety of grades participate in hands-on lab work, focusing on biology, chemistry, physical science, and geology. The laboratory, built by the Gruss Foundation, provides opportunities for boys to learn and discover, each on his level. Additionally, the Gruss curriculum used, is carefully crafted and enhanced by Rabbi Jacobs to present the material in a scientifically accurate and systematic way. Students interact with science based manipulatives as they measure using graduated cylinders, beakers, and weighted scales, peer through microscopes, and share their data using the SMARTBoard.
YKLI students love to learn, and learning in the Science Lab promotes their spirit of discovery. “Our science lab is a favorite destination at Yeshiva Ketana,” says Mrs. Golda Gross, Director of General Studies. “The boys are provided with hands-on experiments and lessons, using exciting tools and instruments with cutting edge technology. They are learning and enjoying.” Mrs. Gross adds, “Rabbi Jacobs has a calm and inviting manner which keeps our talmidim intrigued with the lessons. In fact, one member from the Gruss support team, has complimented Rabbi Jacobs numerous times, not only for his excellence in transmitting the Science lessons, but also for his sensitivity when speaking to our boys.”
As the students explore, each grade has something new to investigate, or if you will, a new quest. The first and second graders are studying seed germination and observing plant growth while understanding the various influences on plant development and height. The third graders have been working on fingerprinting, identifying various types of fingerprints, and embarking on FBI-style forensic mystery games to “find the culprit” based on fingerprints. The fourth graders, while working on units of measure and how to properly measure various items, have been applying their newfound skills to some more practical problems. Their quest has involved a trip to Israel, in which they have to fit their carry-on luggage under their seats. Using math and measurement skills, they figure out which baggage is best to take on an airplane. Fifth graders have been studying heartbeat and pulse and how to change the rate and intensity through various lifestyle measures. “Science is my students' friend,” says Rabbi Jacobs. “The fact that they have hands-on experiences and discover science for themselves, along with the extra support and positive classroom feedback, helps our boys love and enjoy science by seeing and experiencing the world of science in our laboratory.”