Blog  Savlanut: A tale of two workshops

Savlanut: A tale of two workshops

For Day Two of our Sci-Tech Values Olympic Games, we’re throwing it back to 2014 for the origin story of our Core Value, Savlanut… 

Sci-Tech’s Pioneer Summer of 2014 looked very different from the Sci-Tech we recognize today. There were only four workshops instead of ten, every chug was brand new, and traditions didn’t exist yet – they were still being created!

For Robotics Instructor Devon Barker, designing a creative and challenging curriculum was quite a feat, and nothing seemed more enticing than Rube Goldberg machines! Rube Goldberg machines are named for their inventor who drew complex cartoons in which a simple task (like turning on a toaster) was completed in the most comically inefficient way. Campers approached their projects in a similar fashion; they chose their task and then put their heads together to creatively use their classroom, materials, and technology to perform that task. With robotics equipment, tool kits, Legos, marble runs, computers, projectors, and Boker Big Bang supplies at their fingertips, the sky was the limit! The campers designed a wonderfully complex contraption, but now they had to get it to work.

Down the hall from Robotics, Video Game Design instructor Danny Fain was having a similar experience with his workshop. The Video Game Design curriculum had been built around using innovative and up-and-coming programming languages for designing the campers’ games. Scratch, a newly popular program, had just released its second edition and campers were learning the principles of game design at the same time many industry professionals were learning the ins and outs of the exact same program. Campers imagined vibrant worlds and characters, but now they had to code those characters and their story into Scratch for the first time.

Campers in these workshops followed a similar design process, and they thrived at building their real life and digital obstacle courses. However, this means that they encountered similar obstacles of their own: things usually never worked the first time. Simple problems could become hour-long setbacks and often required teammates (or their staff members) to step away when their codes or machines wouldn’t work correctly. This led to a similar conversation in both the Robotics and Video Game Design spaces about the Jewish value of “patience” or savlanut. Visiting Rabbis and synagogue educators walked the campers and staff through examples of savlanut in the Torah, Talmud, and other notable Jewish stories. They spoke about patience as an early value we are taught as human beings, whether we were in a Jewish context or otherwise. Savlanut was central to our existence as people and certainly played a role in both the scientific process and our development as Jews. As a camp, Sci-Tech learned to harness the power of patience: to try again when our code broke, marbles went off track, dominoes didn’t fall, or graphics didn’t look the way we had originally hoped. 

Our campers and staff took these lessons to heart, using savlanut in their workshops, chugim, and halls throughout the rest of the summer. While Sci-Tech already had four Core Values, it felt like savlanut was the unofficial fifth value of Pioneer Summer. To the delight of many, and the surprise of none, Sci-Tech introduced its Five Core Values during the opening ceremony of 2015 – kavod, sakranut, taglit, kesher, and savlanut. These continue to be the Core Values of our Sci-Tech community – from the way we incorporate “challenge by choice” into our current workshop curriculums, to the way staff members making announcements say “In a moment” and our campers reply “not yet” to signify the importance of remaining in the present and listening to the directions to follow. Savlanut allows us to build energy throughout each session and continue our exploration into the curious and unknown. It stands as a building block for Sci-Tech as if it’s been a part of our story and culture the whole time.

Author: luciebwaldman

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