Israeli students seek ways to make industry eco-friendly


04 March 2009 Israeli students seek ways to make industry eco-friendly Heavy industry in general – and the chemical industry in particular – does not have a glowing environmental reputation. But if Grade 9 pupils at the Rogozin A Junior High School in Kiryat Ata have anything to do with it their local factories will have an ecological footprint that will make other communities green with envy. The students have embarked on this year’s project to design an environmentally friendly industrial park to host Haifa Bay’s heavy industries in which many of their parents work. At the launch ceremony was Nechama Kenig, a member of the pedagogical team at World ORT’s Representative Office in Israel. ‘It’s a very exciting activity and I’ve been discussing with my colleagues how it could be developed into a project which we could implement in the other schools World ORT supports through Kadima Mada,’ Ms Kenig said. For the project, the school’s entire Grade 9 is divided into groups of four who compete with each other to design what an independent panel will consider to be the best ‘green’ industrial park. As part of their preparations, the students attend lectures on industry, design and other relevant topics; each group then builds its own three-dimensional, 70cm by 70cm model of their park and writes a presentation explaining the rationale for their design, including where they would locate it and why. ‘It’s a nice project because the children are learning about the environment, about science and about the benefits and drawbacks of technology,’ Ms Kenig said. ‘And it is highly relevant to their lives: the Haifa Bay industrial zone, which is near Kiryat Ata, has historically been a major source of pollution in the area.’ Indeed, two years ago a ministerial committee found that, until the 1980s, Haifa suffered from levels of pollution significantly higher than that tolerated in the rest of the Western world. And although the situation had improved since then, people living in and around Haifa Bay were still prone to above average rates of various serious illnesses. Ami Alexandron, Technical Vice President of Haifa Chemicals, which has a massive plant in the Haifa Bay industrial zone, initiated the annual study programme with Rogozin Principal Fruma Tsoler. ‘This is an exercise in problem solving; we’re exposing the children to real life issues,’ Mr Alexandron said. ‘In planning their industrial zones they have to consider a wide range of issues – for example, what are their objectives and how are those objectives affected by regulations, infrastructure and demography ‘ And, he admitted, the project opens up his and other companies to criticism from the children and their teachers. ‘We try harder and harder to be better at managing our impact on the environment. However, this project is a process by which we expose ourselves to the criticism of the community,’ he said. In addition to studying a range of natural and social scientific material for the project, there are also spin-offs which benefit the children, Mr Alexandron said. ‘This project gives less academically gifted children the opportunity to compete on more equal terms with their peers,’ he said. ‘The competition shows that if you invest your time and work hard you can win even if you are not as skilled as some other people. We have also found that this project provides parents with an opportunity to be involved in their children’s study and share with them professional knowledge and experience. We would like to extend it to all schools participating in Kadima Mada – and even throughout the world.’