ORT's Robotics Program Expands in Israel
Kiryat Yam in northern Israel has historically been home to low-income immigrants from Ethiopia, North Africa, and the former USSR. The city is representative of Israel’s social and economic periphery, which display significant educational gaps compared to their more affluent counterparts. Without ORT’s intervention, these children would lack access to critical technology and scientific thinking skills that are proven effective when introduced at an early age. World ORT Kadima Mada’s (WOKM) innovative Kindergarten Robotics program introduces young children to STEAM activities so they won’t fall behind, significantly improving their chances of future academic success.
Funded by The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the Kindergarten program has had impressive results for the past four years. Currently, there are five participating kindergartens in Kiryat Yam, each serving low-income families with many new immigrants. The classes range from 25 to 33 students per class with a total of 150 kindergarteners who learn how to build robots and collaborate to solve problems. The program has a proven track record of success with teachers and parents reporting improvements in inquisitiveness, motor skills, self-confidence and creativeness.
Young children are capable of broad and deep learning in STEAM subjects if provided with consistent instruction in grade school. In order to ensure that the benefits continue as the children age, WOKM is expanding the program to include first and second grades so students can further develop the skills they have acquired. Using high-tech LEGO robotics kits that are equipped with engines, sensors and programming increases critical thinking and even language skills.
When students participate in the robotics program for multiple years, they will be more likely to continue their engagement with STEAM subjects as part of their formal training and after-school programs in higher grades. This will eventually open up greater possibilities for them to become part of Israel’s tech economy.
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