Close to 200 students, parents, teachers, staff members, and guests of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County turned out on May 28 to dedicate the school’s new science lab.
On the same night, the Marlboro school held a Science, Judaic Studies, and Math Fair, celebrating students’ accomplishments in those three subjects.
Double the size of the old facility room, the remodeled science lab is equipped with custom-made workstations for the students; a mobile teacher’s lab workstation; energy-efficient heating, air conditioning, and lighting; and an updated SmartBoard unit.
No one is happier about the improvements than the students, who have been using the lab for several months, even though the official dedication was held off until late May.
Sixth-graders Morgan Peller of Manalapan and Kylie Heering of Millstone told NJJN that the new surroundings allow classes to carry out additional, exciting experiments. “We were able to work with dry ice, testing how temperature variations affect the rate of speed at which the dry ice changes from a solid to a gas,” said Kylie.
The improved lab “makes science more fun and more interesting,” said Morgan. “I look forward to science more than ever before.”
Morgan said she also appreciates the presence of a storage closet in which students can place unfinished projects. And she praised the arrangement of the workstations, which makes it easier for students to rotate lab partners or work together in larger groups. “It helps us to become more socially connected with our classmates,” she said.
The expanded facility features sinks at all workstations, compared with just one sink in the old lab. The mobile workstation allows teachers to have closer supervision and increased personal instruction and interaction, said head of school Yoti Yarhi.
“The new lab puts every resource students need at their fingertips, giving them new opportunities to develop a passion for science and for learning,” Yarhi said. At SSDS students in grades one-three visit the lab weekly, as a supplement to their in-class science curriculum. In grades four-eight, science is taught in the lab every day.
The PTO raised $75,000 through grassroots efforts to make the new lab possible. “We had a successful teachers’ auction, for which teachers donated things they had made or volunteered their free time to engage in activities and outings with students — both one-to-one and in small groups,” said incoming PTO president Julie Feldman of Colts Neck.
Other fund-raising initiatives included a silent auction, a Mother’s Day plant sale, an art sale featuring the work of SSDS students, a Chanukah Boutique, and school photos.
At the dedication, Rabbi Michael Pont of Marlboro Jewish Center affixed a mezuza to the doorpost of the new lab, after reminding the assembled students, parents, and guests of Maimonides’ admonition, “You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes.”
For the Science, Judaic Studies, and Math Fair, the gymnasium was filled with student-generated exhibits. Fifth-grader Jonathan Howard of Colts Neck created the J-Bot, a kipa-wearing concept for a robot that would be powered by recycled fuel.
For the math segment, eight-year-old Eden Weiss, also of Colts Neck, displayed her version of a “24 Game,” testing four-digit calculations.
Nine-year-old Madison Feldman’s math project was to budget for a family vacation that would cost $8,000. Her poster showing the calculations was headlined, “Welcome to Puerto Rico,” a destination she has visited many times.
The entire eighth grade created scrapbooks — some computerized — to depict the Jewish life cycle, and some of the younger students built dioramas of kosher kitchens.