Technoda Program Cultivates Future Israeli Scientists

August 22, 2013 9:01 am 1 comment

Israeli scientists are cultivated at young ages by Technoda, whose educational programming is pictured here. Photo: Technoda.

JNS.org – On the one hand, Givat Olga is an underprivileged neighborhood in the Israeli city of Hadera with about 12,000 people, primarily immigrants from Ethiopia, North Africa and the former Soviet Union. On the other, the neighborhood is home to the breeding ground for the next generation of science pioneers emerging from the “start-up nation.”

The decision to build Technoda—Israel’s National Museum of Science, Planning and Technology—in the unexpected location of Givat Olga brought educational resources to children who previously had limited access to them. Technoda got off the ground in 1986 with the support of the Rashi Foundation. One of Technoda’s founding fathers, Zion Bash, a senior engineer at Intel, helped develop an educational program with a focal point of enrichment in the sciences.

Twenty students took part in the first iteration of the Technoda program, which now provides more than 30,000 children per year with a hands-on science and general education. Students range from gan (pre-kindergarten) to high school.

“A small room has become a castle,” Dr. Gadi Mador, Technoda’s director, says in an interview with JNS.org.

“One of the basic elements for the future of Israel is to be, first and foremost, strong in science and technology,” he says. “Education is a journey that must start in kindergarten and continue throughout high school.”

Mador emphasizes that Technoda is the only place in Israel where all sectors of the population learn together under same roof—haredim and hilonim (religious and secular), Arabs andkibbutzniks, Christians, Jews, Muslims and Druze. The project’s goals, he says, are “first, to promote science and technology in Israel, and second, to bring together all elements of Israeli society on the common ground of science.”

A day at Technoda begins promptly at 8 a.m. Three morning programs are run simultaneously, with each geared to a specific age group. In the first section, the preschool class, even fairy tales become a vehicle for understanding science and technology.

“There is a special space for kids,” Mador says. “Technoda materials are integrated into the classroom topics. Material is provided to start the learning process in the school. Each ganprogram is two months long. Each of the five units per year culminates with a visit to [the] Technoda [museum].”

Technoda works with the Israeli Education Ministry to identify kids in the third grade who qualify to become part of its Gifted Program. The program continues through high school in an ongoing enrichment experience, both in science and general cultural education. Once a week, throughout the academic year, Technoda students study core scientific knowledge. As part of the high school curriculum, the young scientists visit high-tech companies.

“Seeing companies at work helps encourage work values,” Mador says.

The Technoda program goes beyond science. As part of their agenda, students have an opportunity to give back to the community. For example, they volunteer to work with children with disabilities.

“It’s not easy, but they enjoy working with these kids,” Mador says. “It’s an opportunity to help someone and give back.”

While the formal science and general education programs take place in the morning, afternoons at Technoda take on a more local flavor. The museum portion becomes a “home away from home to 400 children from Givat Olga,” Mador says.

Israeli children often grow up in the same towns as where their parents were raised, a situation that is true for many of the children in Givat Olga, according to Mador.

“We take them to another life, providing a hot meal, homework programs and an opportunity to participate in science and technology,” he says.

Technoda “cannot be just a museum—otherwise there is no support of children in Givat Olga,” Mador adds.

A results-oriented initiative, Technoda measures everything “from the point of view of both quantity and quality,” revealing what Mador calls “a real correlation between the rates of success [of Givat Olga children] and having this sort of opportunity.”

“There is a special group for potentially gifted children in the local community,” Mador says. “We recognize their potential.”

Mador came to Technoda in 1991 as a graduate student in physics and math. One of his professors asked him to come to Givat Olga to teach, and he has never left. His initial years with the project came during the first Palestinian intifada.

“It was quite amazing,” Mador recalls. “Outside, buses were blowing up. At the same time, in the classroom, Arab and Jewish students studied together in completely ordinary ways and learned together. Science and technology is the environment for the future: If you give children the opportunity to be together, it’s a great opportunity for them to simply live together.”

Among the first 20 students at Technoda was Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Capt. Yaron Vivante, a Givat Olga child whose parents immigrated to Israel from Libya. “He was born into technology,” says Mador. “He was very successful in high school. When he joined the IDF, he was accepted to pilot training, and graduated as a navigator of F15s (a type of fighter jet). Everyone was extremely proud of Yaron.”

In August 1995, four birds crashed into the F15 in which Capt. Vivante was flying. The jet crashed, and both he and the pilot were killed. To honor his memory, Technoda has named its major competition for young inventors in his name.

Among the innovations being developed at Technoda, in cooperation with the IDF, is a medical simulator, similar in concept to the computerized aviation trainers used by student pilots. The medical simulator effectively creates a hospital for children—without the children.

Mador explains that before a hands-on program like Technoda, Israeli children “did not understand the need to integrate scientific phenomena and applications.”

“Now kids build models—for example, of a car—[and] learn to understand how it accelerates,” he says. “Here, everything is hands-on, not just theoretical. Much is about the discovery that once you learn the basics, you can then reach for the high level.”

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.