From left, Gr 7 student Haley Mussary consults instructions on a SMARTBoard about how to execute a science question as Kyle Kashuv measures ingredients and Lauren Greenbaum looks on.
The E2K program is orchestrated by the New York-based Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE), which has partnered with the Israel Center for Excellence in Education to bring the Excellence 2000 (E2K) program to Jewish day schools in the United States.
A statement on the CIJE website reads: "At CIJE, we recognize that in today's global economy, excellence in the fields of math and science are increasingly important — and increasingly rare. To encourage day school and yeshiva students to 'think outside the box' and to embrace math and science, we provide a program of fun research projects, mind-bending math problems and international competitions, puzzles and challenges. With E2K classes, students are encouraged to focus on the process of problem-solving rather than the results."
For the competition, students look at SMARTBOARDS (digital white boards) connected to computers transmitting information from Israel for the instructions on how to execute the science questions.
"I like how we got to work with the computer," said Kyle Kashuv, a seventh-grader. "We didn't have to go to a different state and we got to do it right in our own library."
The program encourages teachers to facilitate rather than lecture and lets the students work independently. In that way, students build critical thinking skills and become prepared early for learning in university classrooms and adapting in the work world.
Seventh-grade science teacher, said: "We only did a little prep work for the competition. It's a brand-new emphasis on how students think in the moment. It emphasizes out-of-the-box creative thinking."
But, most of all, the students enjoyed the experience immensely.
"It was a lot of fun," said Joshua Koolik, a sixth-grader. "I've never been in a competition before with the whole United States."