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...

  • Sports US & Canada Tom Brady: Best Part of My Summer Was Watching Julian Edelman Lather Himself in Mud at Dead Sea in Israel

    Tom Brady: Best Part of My Summer Was Watching Julian Edelman Lather Himself in Mud at Dead Sea in Israel

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may have been bogged down this offseason over the NFL’s “Deflategate” scandal, but he found unusual recourse in images of teammate Julian Edelman lathering his body with potent Dead Sea mud in Israel. Indeed, as Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski became the latest celebrity voice to offer directions on the Israeli-developed navigational app Waze, and wide receiver Matthew Slater happily got married, Brady has been facing legal issues after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reaffirmed a four-game suspension for Brady as part of a ball-deflating scandal […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →