Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →