Science, computers to boost day schools programming

In subjects like biology, earth science and physics, Brandeis Hillel middle school students will keep scientific journals of their observations.

That will "improve both their writing and their scientific observation," he says.

While in previous years, Brandeis students in Marin had "hit and run" visits to the computer lab, Shreibman says, now they'll use computer software to learn other subjects, such as math and science, in a program successfully piloted on the San Francisco campus.

Students will have access to the Internet for help with their research papers.

Science competitions are also on the horizon for Brandeis Hillel students.

"I want our students to know that they can compete, [but] that they don't have to win all the time," says Shreibman.

In Palo Alto, the Mid-Peninsula Jewish Community Day School will open a computer lab this fall, modeled on that of South Peninsula Hebrew Day School, says Al Platt, Mid-Peninsula's new director of development. The computers were a gift from Network General.

The new lab will help staff meet the needs of the school's computer-savvy Silicon Valley students, Platt says.

"This is the Valley. This is where it's happening."

Students at Mid-Peninsula will create their own Web site and communicate with children in Israel or anywhere else on the globe .

"It's limited only by imagination," he says.

Like Brandeis, South Peninsula Hebrew Day School in Sunnyvale is trying a more integrative approach to computers.

"It doesn't make sense to [just] teach word processing," says David Fleishhacker, interim head of school at South Peninsula. "Give [students] a program in which they need to use a word processor."

Fleishhacker says the school's students won't be using those 3-by-5 index cards that their parents used for research reports. They'll be keeping all their facts on a computer database.

In San Francisco, kindergartners at the Chabad-affiliated Shalom School will learn hands-on science in addition to their Hebrew-Judaica program, according to the school's director, Hinda Langer. The 5-year-olds, for example, will nurture a vegetable garden and watch caterpillars turn into butterflies.

New programs, says Shreibman, are energizing for both teachers and students.

"Delighting and surprising people is what education is about."