Tu B’Shevat and KIBO

In celebration of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of Trees, the first and second graders at New England Jewish Academy, (NEJA,) along with their Hebrew teacher, Mrs. Maya Schwartz, their Judaic Studies teacher, Mrs. Shifra Silver and the General Studies teacher, Mrs. Helen Schwartz, combined lessons to have the students create artwork that was then used by the KIBO robot to help celebrate Tu B’Shevat. The history of the holiday, the Hebrew words for tree parts, customs and rituals were covered in Hebrew and Judaic Studies classes. The recycling and robotics focus was taught during science class. First they worked with recycled materials- long and short cardboard tubes, packing material, (that made great nests,) an old white shirt that when cut up became great snow and eggs for the nests, as well as left over construction paper for leaves and fruit. The group made 4 trees to represent the four seasons and then programmed KIBO to approach each tree and share what it needed. For instance when the light bulb was blue, it was “watering” the tree, white was snow for some trees, red light was sun, When KIBO shook, it was either shaking down fruit or planting some seeds and when KIBO turned in a circle, it was replicating playing in the leaves. When KIBO sang it was making the trees happy.”

Some of the comments from the students were-

  • “It was a creative idea and we worked well as a team. It was a fun experience making KIBO find the right things for each tree.”
  • “I liked working with kids from the rest of my pod that are not in my class.”
  • “I liked this activity because I like trees and plants.”
  • “It was fun making the trees.”
  • “We can also use these trees and KIBO for celebrating spring. “

The classes enjoyed this multi-day project and worked well in small and large groups as well as planning together for what they were going to do and what KIBO’s parts could represent.