Pardes CSO and Fellow Student Experience the Science of the Middle Ages

March 5 – Pardes Jewish Day School was the only Lower/Middle School invited to present at the inaugural STEAM Education Day which took place at this year’s annual Renaissance Festival.  Over 1,000 students from Tucson to Flagstaff attended this AZ Scitech/AZ Technology Council event. It is one of the newest ASU programs for schools involved in STEAM and technology conferences.  

The event is intended to highlight the Chief Science Officer program (CSO) which includes elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities.  Each year, participating schools select one student to be their CSO. CSOs attend conferences, training and various events where they engage in unique STEAM focused learning opportunities. They then take their experiences back to their schools in order to share, further explore, and develop project based experiences in and out of the classroom.

Pardes science teacher David Rivas, CSO officer Noah and 7th grader Gavin attended the event. They learned about science in the Middle Ages, including some of the art and medicine of the time. “It was fascinating to watch someone swallow fire and discuss the science of fire,” said Mr. Rivas.  “The students were also captivated by the presentation on glass blowing. In learning about Medieval weaponry, it was interesting to discover how whips actually break the sound barrier. There were so many cool things to learn.”

As participants in this first annual event, Mr. Rivas presented a talk about the science of the Middle Ages and how although much of the information is now obsolete, it can still be used to teach about things like simple machines and basic chemistry.  “The idea was to get kids to love science and to start CSO programs in their own schools,” he said. “This was the first year for the program. Next year Pardes will be engaged in the actual planning, with our CSO directly involved. This year educators did the presenting but the goal is for the students to also speak in future conference style events. “

In addition to Pardes, presenters included local colleges such as Arizona State University, Scottsdale Community College, Grand Canyon University and Mesa Community College.

When asked what he liked best about the experience, Mr. Rivas talked about seeing students’ enthusiasm and love of science and how the academic applications can be applied to something as unique as the Renaissance Festival.

“It was fun looking at all the Medieval arts like jousting and magic tricks,” added Noah.  “I learned how there was so much science involved in those times, like how catapults were made.  It was a great experience!”