30 Sep The Lieberman Family STEAM Center & 21st Century Skills

The students who started in Gan this month will graduate from Schechter Manhattan in 2025, high school in 2029, and college in 2033. Preparing our graduates for the word of the 2030’s and beyond calls for a vision of teaching and learning that nurtures key 21st century skills- the ability to think critically, collaborate, connect, communicate, and create. One of the ways that we nurture these skills and dispositions is through the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) in our Lieberman Family STEAM Center. STEAM learning begins when our students identify real world problems and challenges and then integrate the knowledge and skills from a mix of disciplines to design and implement solutions. Thanks to the generosity and vision of Eileen and Jerry Lieberman, the Lieberman Family STEAM Center is transforming teaching and learning throughout Schechter Manhattan.

In our first weeks of school our students have been deeply engaged with the Lieberman Family STEAM Center. Our first grade students regularly visit Central Park  to play in the playground, but when they visited the playground last week it was with a different goal in mind. The students made careful observations and notes about the playground equipment, thinking about how it is designed and constructed. These visits and observations will help prepare them for when they design and build their own model playground equipment in the coming weeks.

In second grade students are thinking about how buildings are designed and which attributes of construction help buildings to remain standing and to bear weight. Working in small groups, they were given a limited number of materials to build a structure with the same principles; remaining standing and bearing weight. Each group was given a supply of straws and tape, and a ball of putty that needed to be held up by the structure. As in real life, each group designed different structures and explored whether their design would hold the putty aloft.

Our fourth grade students worked in groups to design mazes for marbles to roll through. They are learning about inclined planes, and other simple machines, and used the principles they learned about an incline plane to design their mazes. They followed a design thinking process, planning together, sketching drafts, and then building. They also used their artistic skills to make their mazes colorful and unique.

Our eighth grade students worked on a series of STEAM challenges connected to the summer olympics. They designed and built sculptures that light up like the olympic flame, mechanisms to catapult a marshmallow over a small net like in volleyball, and structures that can support a cup with the most possible weight at least 4 inches off a table.

Our middle school STEAM activity included learning how to use the 3D design program www.tinkercad.com. With this program the students are designing logos that can be printed onto stencils using the school’s 3D printer.

All of the activities in the Lieberman Family STEAM Center are new and enhanced ways that students are building the thinking skills and problem solving dispositions to approach problems in innovative ways. We are looking forward to a year full of new STEAM learning opportunities across the school. We are confident that with each STEAM learning experiences our students develop the 21st century thinking skills to design solutions to the challenges they will face in the years ahead.

Benjamin Mann


Author’s Chair

Each week we will feature the written work of our students. We hope that you will stop by every week and see what they are writing and thinking about.


Kitah Aleph

The Kitah Aleph authors have been writing stories by focusing in on small moments in their lives.  These stories are works in progress.


Click here to read the story by Zeva.

Translation of Zeva’s story:
When I Get Ready For School
First I wake up, then I get dressed.
Then I eat breakfast, put on my shoes and leave for school


Click her to read the story by Naomi.

Translation of Naomi’s story:
Arielle and me played puzzles.  I love Arielle


Kitah Gimmel

In Kita Gimmel, we discussed that Rosh Hashanah is a time for us to reflect on our relationship with God and on our relationship with those in our community. We studied the line from tefillah on Rosh Hashanah that says “Teshuva u’Tefillah u’Tzedaka Ma’avirin et Ro’a Hagezeira”. This means that when we acknowledge and apologize for our mistakes, pray and give charity, we erase our bad sins. We discussed how these actions improve both our relationship with God and with others. We also thought of other ways we can improve ourselves and all our relationships as we go into the new year. Shanah Tovah!


Click here to read work by AkivaAmelieAriel and Maya.


Kitah Heh

In Math in Kitah Heh we are exploring division strategies. Students wrote a story problem about a given division problem, figured out how to solve it, and drew an illustration.

Click here to read work by Gabby and BatyaJonathan and TobyOdelia and JaydenRonin and Elijah, and Shosh and Elana.