Mada-Na exhibitions magnetic attraction


27 January 2010 Mada-Na exhibitions magnetic attraction World ORT has established a ring of five interactive exhibitions which will travel between host towns in Israel to entice children to study science. The last of the exhibitions on the theme of electricity and magnetism has just been opened in Tirat HaCarmel, whose Shifman High School is a long-time beneficiary of World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. The exhibitions, which also cover mechanics, waves, optics, and liquids and gases, together form a Mobile Science Museum and comprise Phase 10 of Kadima Mada a major programme of investment in the technological infrastructure and teacher training at high schools in more than 30 municipalities throughout Israel. A senior student from Shifman High School in Tirat HaCarmel with one of the Mada-Na exhibits. Each exhibition has 15 installations designed and developed by Danny Ovadia a 2008 co-recipient of the Beatrice Wand-Polak award given by World ORT to outstanding educators. They are housed in the Eshkol Payis communal science and art buildings in the peripheral municipalities of Kiryat Yam, Nesher, Tirat HaCarmel, Misgav and Maale Yosef each one adjacent to a school which participates in Kadima Mada. At the end of February, and every six months after that, the exhibitions will rotate between the host communities.World ORT is giving our children the opportunity to see something interesting, something which motivates them to ask questions and to listen to answers, the Mayor of Tirat HaCarmel, Arieh Tal, told the opening ceremony. And then they go on to ask more questions and their interest grows. This brings them closer to understanding science and they can profit from this later in life because this may help them to take up this path in their studies and careers. The exhibitions were a means of opening up new horizons for young people, Mr Tal said.By investing in this generation, future generations will benefit because there will be more scientists and we will have a generation which supports rather than needs support, he said.A banner at Tirat HaCarmels Eshkol Payis for the ceremony bore Albert Einsteins quotation: The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. And the exhibition immediately lived up to the great scientists words, according to Shelly Yonah, a physics teacher at Tirat HaCarmel who is responsible for running the exhibition. I am very happy; this exhibition is a dream-come-true, Ms Yonah said. It opens the students eyes to physics; it makes them ask questions and gives them an opportunity to try things themselves. It makes them more curious about physics. Even children I dont teach, those who have never even learned physics, they walk around and they start to wonder what physics is and whether its something that they should learn.She received training from Mr Ovadiah in the uses to which the exhibition and its installations can be put. He bemoaned the failure of physics to compete with more glamorous and less challenging subjects for childrens attention. While three of Israels nine Nobel Prize winners have been scientists, less than 10 per cent of Israeli children now study physics at school and even fewer continue studying it at university. Mr Ovadiah, who is also Director of the Eshkol Payis in Misgav, said: In some places principals dont even open a physics class because the matriculation exam average is low, equipment costs are high and few students enrol. Principals prefer social science classes which, apart from a teacher, demand no investment. It is a situation which World ORT, together with its partners in the local municipalities and the Ministry of Education, is keen to reverse. And Ms Yonah is enthusiastic about the exhibitions potential to make an impact. Electro-magnetism is very abstract and its hard for the children to understand. So the fact that they now have physical things to touch and which they can interact with such as a plasma ball and a circuit which can be adjust to show the effect on current and voltage brings the whole subject down to Earth, she said. The Mada-Na project originally grew out of a meeting with the directors of the Eshkolot Payis in the countrys north nearly two years ago. Most of the directors were at Tirat HaCarmel for the opening ceremony and in a private meeting with Kadima Mada Executive Director Rony Kalinsky it was decided to prepare feedback questionnaires for people attending the exhibitions as well as teachers and senior students charged with manning the exhibits. The aim is to improve and adapt the displays and the training of staff and volunteers.