Maimonides School: Middle School Matters
April 24, 2015                  Parashat Tazria-Metzora          5 Iyar, 5775  

Maimonides School
In This Issue
Yom HaZikaron
Yom Ha'Atzmaut
Color War
Yom Orchim Coming Up Fast!
Middle School Lit Mag
Scott Mattoon on STEM
Science Guest Speaker
Chinese Food
Online Photo Galleries
Quick Links
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Dear MS Families,    


This was a busy week, full of activities in honor of Rosh Chodesh, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom Ha'Atzmaut -- not to mention Color War!

Please read on to hear all about it, and to get information on upcoming events.  


I would also like to share with you this D'var Torah from Rabbi David Saltzman, Elementary School Principal.
Brian Cohen
Associate Principal, Middle School  
Middle School students demonstrate inter-team friendship.

Yom HaZikaron

The Middle School observed Yom HaZikaron with the Upper School at a special tekes in the shul. A memorial candle was lit, and IDF veteran Ohad Elhelo spoke to the students about his experiences in Operation Protective Edge. Students then read aloud texts in Hebrew and English about Israeli soldiers and victims of terror, and the boys' choir performed a touching rendition of "Shmor Al Ha'Olam Yeled." The students and faculty of Saval campus stood for a minute of silence, and emerged from Yom HaZikaron full of reflection.

Yom Ha'Atzmaut Celebration
We moved from the solemnity of Yom HaZikaron to the excitement of Yom Ha'Atzmaut!   The seventh graders performed a daglanut (synchronized flag-work) routine at Beth El in Newton to mark the separation between the two days on Wednesday night, and then reprised their routine on Thursday morning to introduce the Maimonides all-school simcha dancing session.

In addition to the daglanut routine, the students heard Rabbi Soskil speak about the importance of Yom Ha'Atzmaut, and sang "HaTikva" in unison.

We wish Medinat Yisrael a very happy 67th birthday, and many, many more!

Color War!

We didn't lose
a beat as we went from simcha dancing into the Middle/Upper School Color War, featuring Team Aish (orange) vs. Team Mayim (blue). It was a busy day, full of sports, races, cheering, and presentations -- with a quick break in the middle for a barbecue lunch. The students had a great time taking part in the activities and getting to know the Upper School 
students on their teams. 

Congratulations to Team Mayim for winning the 2015 Color War!


Yom Orchim
Yom Orchim is coming up!

We are so excited for Yom Orchim on Friday, May 8! This is the day when we welcome grandparents, relatives, or other special visitors to our Elementary and Middle Schools to share in a day at Maimonides.

There is still time to invite a special visitor for your child -- you can get more information and register here, or contact Ellen Pulda, 617-232-4452 x 423,

Middle School Literary Magazine!
Introducing ...
The brand-new Lit Mag
just for Middle Schoolers!

We are delighted to announce the founding of the new Middle School literary magazine! All Middle School students are encouraged to submit:

  Divrei Torah

whether they were prepared for class or for fun.

Submissions can be brought in to Mrs. Vedol or emailed to her at by Monday, May 18.

Electronic and printed copies will be available at the end of the school year.
Mr. Mattoon Counters Fareed Zakaria on STEM

Well-known columnist Fareed Zakaria recently wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post entitled "Why America's obsession with STEM education is dangerous."


Mr. Zakaria is one of my favorite pundits for his clear-thinking, broad-minded assertions, grounded in compelling global perspectives, and he doesn't disappoint in this piece. That said, while I agree with his message, I do not agree with his premise.


The reason that STEM interests are commanding such attention in education is twofold:

  1. STEM interests have historically been proportionally  under-represented in the 20th-century model of liberal education, and their young 21st-century expansion / development in education is actually in service to a more ideal balance of that liberal education. Graduation requirements at Maimo and all secondary schools (via college admissions standards) have historically required more humanities courses than STEM ones, and in some places continue to be that way. If anything, STEM is playing catch-up to the humanities.
  2. The most powerful value of a STEM education -- the value that drives the innovation Zakaria lauds -- is found in the thinking skills it hones more than in the technical skills it trains. These thinking skills overlap in a Venn-diagram way with those of the humanities: STEM thinking skills are honed through the context of empirical, observable phenomena, whose universal truths frame our way of understanding certain "laws" of life. In the humanities, thinking skills are honed through the context of subjective and intangible -- but no less observable -- phenomena, whose universal truths also frame our way of understanding certain "laws" of life. Any student of literature or history or language and culture can point to "laws" of life, just as STEM students can. The development of STEM-based thinking skills is an essential complement to those in the humanities. What seems subjective can still be strongly truthful, as much as what seems objective can still be dubiously truthful. Only through thought training in both areas can we best sift through what is closer to the most accurate truths in life.  

Schools that set up STEM programs where technical skills and tools are the primary driver miss the point. Schools that set up STEM programs to promote a way of thinking that is supported by technical skills and tools get it right. These schools, the ones that value STEM thinking skills, are the ones that are most likely also to value the humanities for their own essential, complementary thinking skills. And both kinds of thinking skills drive us toward ends that are less dissimilar to each other than they would initially appear.

Science Guest Speaker
Two of Ms. Guidi's eighth-grade science classes enjoyed a program with Mr. Adam Cohen of Polar Controls, Inc.

Mr. Cohen, an electrical engineer, demonstrated the use of an oscilloscope, which measures the frequency of an electrical signal over time and displays waveform signals in a graph. Using the oscilloscope, the students were able to "hear" electricity.

Taam China on Monday


This coming Monday will be the last Chinese lunch of April.  


Chinese lunches will be sold for the month of May and beginning of June; a new sign-up sheet will be sent home today! 



On behalf of the entire Middle School: Shabbat Shalom!

Brian Cohen

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