Israeli high schools celebrate science with Kadima Mada


18 March 2009 Israeli high schools celebrate science with Kadima Mada Hundreds of Israeli teenagers have been able to appreciate the beauty of science in new ways thanks to special activities arranged by World ORT for International Science Day. This years activities were spread out over Friday, Monday and Tuesday because the usual date of March 14, Albert Einsteins birthday, fell on Shabbat. Students from schools in the north and south of the country were treated to fascinating new looks at science and technology which showed their relevance to everyday life. Professor Sidney Strauss, a former Chief Scientist of Israels Ministry of Education and a current member of World ORTs Kadima Mada Academic Advisory Council, applauded the form and content of the commemorations. The kids are not being exposed to science and technology in a purely academic way but in ways which show how scientific ideas are used to help people, Professor Strauss said. This event ensures that children can see that the study of science is relevant. Its not often taught in schools that science can be put to use for the betterment of humanity so its important that extra curricular activities such as these are available. Its good that World ORT, through its Kadima Mada programme, is doing it. Last week 240 children aged between 12 and 15 came together in Kiryat Ata to learn about aviation. As part of their practical examination of the principles of flight they made and launched their hot air balloons. Some of the balloons carried messages of peace and freedom, in particular for the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held hostage by Hamas for coming up to 1,000 days. Aviation was also the theme in Kiryat Yam, the site of World ORTs Science City, where 160 Grade 9 students heard a scientist from Rafael Advanced Defence Systems give a lecture about different types of aircraft. The children were then divided into small groups to build and fly their own model aircraft. This week, groups of 80 children from Horfesh, Einot Yarden and Emek HaChuda schools came together at the Migal Upper Galilee Centre of Knowledge in Kiryat Shmona to enjoy a wide variety of scientific experiments that they would not normally have the opportunity to do as part of the standard curriculum. Following lectures by scientists, the children had hands-on experience investigating anaerobic fermentation, growing fungal cultures with medical research applications, exploring technologies used to obtain colours and other useful things from plants, seeing how liquid nitrogen can be used to preserve cell cultures in medical research, and looking at how bird flu and other viruses can be fought. Gadaban Asil, a Grade 8 student from Horfesh, said: The activity was great. Its added a lot to my general knowledge. We saw how things actually work. And schoolmate Raneen Faras added: It was amazing and interesting. We learned so many new things. Now I want to learn science! In addition, children from Makif Aleph High School in Beer Sheva capped off zoological studies with a trip to the safari park in Ramat Gan and at Shaar HaNegev High School, the Chairman of the Israeli Carnivorous Plant Society, Arieh Cohen, gave a lecture before the children set to work on their own experiments on the plants which bite back. Rutti Argaman, Sha’ar HaNegev School Science Coordinator and World ORT Innovation Leader, thanked World ORT for its support in making the International Science Day activities possible. It was a wonderful experience, Ms Argaman said. The children were exposed to natural phenomenon that arent always included in the regular school curriculum. They understood some scientific truths, observed unique research methods and ecological phenomena. All the children were amazed. World ORT Treasurer Judy Menikoff was in Israel with her husband, Peter, and saw some of the activities first hand. It was wonderful to see how engaged the children were in their activities, Mrs Menikoff said. They were so interested to find out how to make their model aircraft fly. And the demonstration of pressure and volume, using dry ice and balloons, was extraordinarily effective. The children saw that learning science can be fun. During their tour of Kadima Mada projects, the Menikoffs also saw smart boards in action in Shaar HaNegev. Ive never seen kids so engaged in a subject before, Mrs Menikoff said. Ive never seen so much enthusiasm for a subject as in the class we viewed. Before, there may have been one or two kids interested in a topic but now they were all jumping out of their seats to participate.