When Yosefa Schoor began shadowing a pediatric neurologist in high school, she quickly noticed that when a child is admitted to the hospital, three things tended to occur: “Time freezes. Apprehension rises. Boredom ensues.”
After becoming an undergraduate at Yeshiva University, she teamed up with first year medical student Yair Saperstein to address the problem.
The pair launched Project TEACH: Together Educating All Children in Hospitals, which provides pediatric patients and their siblings with a chance to participate in hands-on science workshops while in the hospital. Through the program, children conduct such science experiments as designing a contraption to protect a dropped egg from breaking, using chemistry to make silly putty and building a model using yeast and balloons to demonstrate the concept of respiration.
The idea was a hit. Originally based at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Project TEACH has grown. Today, the program has about 500 graduate and undergraduate volunteers running the workshops at 11 hospitals in three states.
For now, the TEACH curriculum consists of five science lessons, which volunteers present from a patient’s bedside or from a broadcasting room in the hospital. Often, parents request access to these projects at home, a demand that was met by creating comprehensive instruction worksheets.
“You’re teaching them and connecting to them in a way that playing blocks with them can’t,” said Schoor.
Project TEACH, she said, “exemplifies the Jewish value of tikkun olam in its most sincere sense. TEACH enables hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish students of all ages to utilize their academic passions to help children of all ages and cultures.”
Schoor, who currently works as a clinical research coordinator at Montefiore, plans to attend Albert Einstein Medical School in the fall. She hopes to “help as many children everywhere as possible” through TEACH, which continues to grow.
“We have already began our expansion into Israel,” she said, “and we intend to help all pediatric patients, who, unfortunately, are everywhere.”
Farm fun: Schoor was born and raised on a farm in Monsey, N.Y., growing up with 16 goats. For an 11th grade history project on Mamie Eisenhower, she spray painted her goat (named Snow White) pink and brought her into school to illustrate the former first lady’s obsession with pink.