- Shmuel Hoffman
A school without a comprehensive STEM program can't really cut it nowadays.
But most schools don't have the financial or human resources to tackle creating a STEM program.
Perhaps you're familiar with CIJE, the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education.
Pretty much all of the innovative STEM programming you've seen pop up in Jewish day schools over the last few years has been thanks to CIJE. CIJE has about 200 day schools signed on to their program and implementing their initiatives. They provide a turnkey solution for any school looking to bring its STEM departments into the 21st century, from hiring staff to training staff, to providing curricula and materials. Then they connect students from different day schools and give them CIJE fairs, where students compete for awards by designing, creating, showcasing and pitching their inventions. With signing up for CIJE, schools don't have to reinvent the wheel, and they can just plug in to the researched and developed program, rather than spending money, time and resources to develop something less comprehensive.
Across the schools we film for, CIJE initiatives have been some of the most impressive parts of what schools have to offer in secular studies. More than that, they have inspired thousands of students who otherwise would not have had access to an education in science and technology. They are literally shaping the future and what the world will look like by partnering students and their awesome ideas with the resources to help them create them.
In addition to their mega-events, CIJE takes students on trips all over the world to visit startups and see how technology is implemented in the real world, helping kids envision a future in the sciences for themselves.
With around a thousand students showing up to their mega-event in NYC, CIJE wanted a film to showcase to the participants, as a grand opening to the event, grabbing their attention, and getting them excited about what they were a part of. CIJE wanted a film that would show the nationwide reach of their work, and make the students feel like they were a part of something epic.
We filmed this in NYC, Florida, Los Angeles, and Chicago. While the footage was diverse, we wanted to use driving music that would animate the kids in their seats, and editing with fast cuts that would hold their attention. Our goal with educational institutions is always to make them stand out from the others, and we hope to do this by creating films that stand out from the others.
While the pandemic has put a temporary hold on these in-person CIJE fairs, CIJE has of course used technology to hold zoom events and lessons, and send materials in a box to kids attending school virtually from home. CIJE has been able to continue its important work of connecting students with the future that they will build themselves, with their own hands. There is nothing more empowering than that.
With vaccine administration on the horizon for faculty and students, we are hoping that schools, camps, and their supporting organizations will be able to have big events once again.