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Grade-School Students Helping to “STEAM Out Hunger” in East Tennessee

KJDS practice can build-webKnoxville, TN — Grade-school students from the Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School have designed a canned food sculpture, featuring the school’s name and ram mascot, as part of a “STEAM Out Hunger” project and final exhibit to be displayed at the American Museum of Science and Energy in December. The project is inspired by Knoxville’s Holiday Canstruction® event hosted by Messer Construction.

The “STEAM Out Hunger” exhibit is the culmination of a semester-long project to engage students in science, technology, engineering, art and math (“STEAM”) lessons while giving back to the community. This project is part of an innovative “STEAM into Service” program developed at KJDS that fuses project- and service-based learning.

Key to this educational project is a community service aspect to teach students about giving to those in need with donation of the cans to the Second Harvest Food Bank. In addition to the cans from the sculpture, the school is holding a food drive in partnership with AMSE. All food collected will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank to provide hunger relief in the East Tennessee community. Students also volunteered in the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse.

“In Judaism we have what’s called Tzedakah,” explains Miriam Esther Wilhelm, KJDS Head of School. “Tzedakah is not just about ‘giving back’ but considered a duty. It’s a wonderful lesson for our children and something we want to share with the community.”

This semester’s project engaged the K–5 students with hands-on instruction to learn about the engineering design process through the team-based construction of their can sculpture. The students learned new STEAM skills with weekly lessons and assistance from professionals in the art, architecture and engineering fields.
“We’re very excited that we had so many members from the community – academics, architects and engineers – who volunteered their time and talents, working directly with students,” she said. “Best of all, the children were able to participate and get involved at all levels, whether it was the math aspect or designing the sculpture.”
ConAgra Foods and Bush’s Beans donated the 1,440 canned-food building blocks for the sculpture. The Besmann Family Fund for Social Justice and Spiritual Enrichment of the Knoxville Jewish Community Family of Funds also provided project support.

Based on the success of this project, Wilhelm says the school is moving forward with the “STEAM Into Service” program to identify new projects that integrate a STEAM curriculum with a service component.

About Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School: KJDS is a vibrant community Jewish day school filled with joy, rooted in core Jewish values and devoted to academic excellence. Our families are diverse in their beliefs, affiliations and observances. We work together to create a welcoming community based upon mutual respect and shared values. Serving the Knoxville Jewish Community, students are from Knox, Anderson, Sevier and Blount counties. Learn more at

Contact: Miriam Esther Wilhelm
(865) 560-9922


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