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 In Hashavua Article

The Power of Transformation
This summer, I was in Argentina visiting family and friends. Among our many adventures, we went to see Toy Story 4. In this movie, the principal human character is Bonnie, a kindergartener who creates a toy out of a spork (a weird combination of a fork and a spoon), a pipe cleaner, and some classroom materials. The child names it “Forky.” In typical Toy Story fashion, Forky talks when humans are not around, and the first thing Forky wants to do is to throw himself in the garbage while repeatedly chanting “I am trash! I am trash!” Woody, Toy Story’s brave cowboy, explains that despite Forky’s preconceived notion, he is no longer trash. To the contrary, Woody continues, Forky has become Bonnie’s most precious toy, “because she created you!”

When I saw that scene in the movie, I said to myself: “This is what we do at Yavneh with the students, and what families do together at the Family Day of Code, Tinkering and Play’s Maker Space!” After giving it more thought, I decided that this year, I want to deepen my focus on inspiring the students to witness the power they have to transform things, and to look at things from different angles.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” is a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It is one of the quotes I hang in my STEAM room because I want students to know that it is great to imagine and have dreams, but if we are serious about them, we need to have a plan to transform those hopes, dreams, and goals into reality.

The power of transformation takes place the instant I begin each of my STEAM lessons. Kitah Gan students are forest engineers when we touch and study trees; Kitah Hay students transform into scientists when they experiment with density columns to better understand the layers of the atmosphere; and Kitah Alef students become software engineers when they begin their coding. When Kitah Bet students are challenged to build a self-standing structure out of paper and tape, their eyes light up as they learn that they can create a stronger, more stable structure by turning a rectangle sheet of paper into a cylinder. “Look at the materials you have, and see beyond them,” I explain to an audience that is craving to do more. The following week, those same students have the possibility to create their own toys when I asked them “What’s your Forky?” When Kitah Gimel students transform donated acrylic cylinders, into beautiful mezuzot, we can see how miraculously we are able to transform donated “trash” into something amazing. The next time Kitah Dalet students visit the beach, they will witness the sand as a platform to build models of landforms that will be eroded by water, just as they did in their projects at school.

This same transformational approach in our Middle School electives will bring you Yavneh’s first ever TV news Show, “YCast,” created and produced by students. In Innovation Lab, creations come alive because students are given the opportunity to literally build their dreams!

Rebecca McNutt transformed the famous quote “A picture is worth a thousand words” to “A picture is worth a thousand words but the memories are priceless.” Join me in watching this video to witness the transformative learning experiences in which we engage and the memories that we are making together.

As always, I am an email away. Stay tuned for the “What’s your Forky” challenge coming soon to your home!
Shabbat Shalom – Morah Vanina