A scene from the 1986 movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off illustrates how we can see individuality within a bigger picture. The scene takes place in the art museum and Bueller’s best friend Cameron Frye is struck by one particular picture (Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat).
As he stares at the picture, the camera flashes back and forth between Cameron and the picture, each time moving closer in, eventually showing that Cameron’s whole attention is actually focused on one dot on the picture. Director John Hughes, commenting on this scene, suggests that Cameron sees how one dot among many can be bland. He uses that idea to question himself.
To better connect the dots, our First-Grade students celebrated Dot Day on September 15, by reading the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds and building a tower out of dot stickers and index cards. By reading this book and building their tower of index cards, our students learned that every dot matters, and that even though some of the dots might appear to be bland, they are still important. Without that one dot the whole picture would become entirely different.
In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, we read, 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:
Focus on the opening word, הַשְׁקִ֩יפָה֩ Hashkifa, including the dots that comprise the vowels and tropes (cantillation notes). In addition to meaning “gaze down” הַשְׁקִ֩יפָה֩ Hashkif can be translated as transparency. The Torah cantillation marks above the word look like magnifying glasses, allowing for clearer vision. What do we see when we look down from above? Do we see everything or just dots?
This week our students have been looking at the world through the proverbial magnifying glass, practicing skills of keen observation through a variety of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) activities.
First-Grade students worked as engineers to create the longest paper chain possible, using only two pieces of construction paper, a ruler, scissors and 12 inches of masking tape.
Fourth-Grade students are learning the constraints that engineers have to overcome when designing a tower of index cards that must be sturdy enough to hold a book.
Sixth-Grade students made models of the earth, moon and sun to learn about seasons.
Seventh-Grade students are creating density bottles and are learning the non-Newtonian properties of ooblek as they protect an egg dropped from various heights.
Kindergarten students created an apple volcano and discovered that mixing vinegar and baking soda caused a reaction. Apples are symbolic of Rosh Hashana and the start to a new year, but in this case the apples were made into volcanos which became vessels for internal conflicts (the mixture of vinegar and baking soda) which can cause conflict and erupt.
Fifth-Grade students designed and built a car that would be fast, safe, strong enough to carry a lot of items and aesthetically pleasing. Students worked in teams to design and build their cars as well as participate in a variety of trials testing different criteria to determine the fastest car, the car that would travel the farthest, the best-looking design and the safest. To determine safety, cars were thrust against a wall to see if the passenger (a raw egg) would remain unharmed.
Through these activities, students learn to gaze down, to inspect and to discover how one small dot interacts with all of the other dots to create a beautiful masterpiece that is the world around them. At Bornblum, it’s how we illuminate our world with curiosity.