More from the Bornblum School

Here’s the latest, a newsletter from the headmaster of the Bornblum School, which speaks for itself! I have nothing to add.

Weekly Wisdom

from our head of school

Weekly Wisdom from our Head of School In my 23 years in education, there have been moments of affirmation when the universe seems to let you know that you are on the right track. This week, we had one of those moments at Bornblum.     We had the unique opportunity to welcome Clemens Sparowitz from Austria into our school. Clemens, the President and CEO from Dexwet Holdings Corporation, brought in a new type of air filter to be installed in our classrooms.  These unique filters, in use in Europe, provide excellent air filtration, and without a doubt, have already improved the quality and safety of the air circulation in our school. Being the first building outside of Europe to have this unique technology is a high honor and a great privilege.  But that is not the best or most important part of this story.  At many schools, the installation of the filtration system would have been just that, another maintenance project that would benefit the school. But at Bornblum, this event took on a life of its own.  We knew we had an incredible learning opportunity before us. Not only would our students benefit from a health and wellness perspective, but also, they could benefit from an academic experience.  Using our Design Thinking model, we worked with Mr. Sparowitz to create a learning opportunity for our students. And it is a perfect example of Design Thinking at work in the real world.   Design thinking is a multi-step iterative process that begins with empathy.  What challenges are other people facing?  It then provides a process to define the problem, formulate ideas, prototype solutions and test them until a suitable approach is found to address the initial issue identified.     Through an experiential learning process, a team of students delved into the concepts of aerodynamics and air quality by conducting experiments with both Dexwet air filters and the traditional filters typically found in homes and schools. They applied the knowledge they gained and assisted a Dexwet engineer in building the new filters to be installed throughout the school. Our middle schoolers were incredibly engaged in the process and experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring an innovative technology into the U.S. and into our school. The students recognized through their learning the impact that these new filters will have on our environment (they are made of plastic and reusable, year after year, after being cleaned in a dishwasher), on our energy consumption (they allow for more efficient use of energy as the vents do not need to work as hard to go through a traditional paper filter), economic (as energy costs and replacement costs are low), and better for our health (the air quality in the first room these filters were installed in, our Design Lab, improved from 135 nano-particles to 50 in just one night).   This experience also integrated into what our students learned this week in their study of the weekly Torah Portion, Ki Tavo.     Gaze down from Your holy abode from heaven, and bless Thy people Israel, and the land which You have given us, as You did swear unto our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.’Deut. 26:15  הַשְׁקִ֩יפָה֩ מִמְּע֨וֹן קָדְשְׁךָ֜ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבָרֵ֤ךְ אֶֽת־עַמְּךָ֙ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֵת֙ הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תָּה לָ֑נוּ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֤ר נִשְׁבַּ֨עְתָּ֙ לַֽאֲבֹתֵ֔ינוּ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָֽשׁ  הַשְׁקִ֩יפָה֩ Hashkifa in addition to meaning “gaze down” can be translated as transparency (in fact, the Torah cantillation marks above the word look like magnifying glasses, allowing for clearer vision).  Are we content with what we see, or do we see room for improvement?  Our students learned through their lesson on air filters that tiny molecules, dust, and pathogens flow throughout our rooms, smaller than our eyes can see. We need to filter these out. Our new filters, coated with a sticky oil, captures and absorbs those germs before they recirculate through our classrooms.   Our 7th grade students took this discovery even a step further as they learned about living organisms in the biosphere, including cells which are the basic structures of life. Students looked at different types of bacteria under the lens of a microscope to compare shapes, colors, sizes, and cell structures. They began with a 4x magnification to see most of the slide and then went to 10x and 40x to see a more detailed view. This foundational knowledge will be used throughout their science class this year, and it also enabled the students to better understand the design of the new filters and how they trap these tiny bacteria.   Indeed, at Bornblum, installation of new and safer technology was not just an event, but an opportunity to learn. We are proud of our students, our curricular integration, and in our ability to become the first institution in the United States to not only install, but build our own filters.  A special thank you to Mr. Sparowitz and the Dexwet team.

In case you missed it, several local media outlets covered the story:  Fox13 News 5 p.m. Broadcast
Shabbat Shalom, Daniel R. Weiss
Head of School
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