World ORT trains science teachers to use new technology


14 March 2008 World ORT trains science teachers to use new technology The first session of a training course to help teachers fully exploit the potential of computerised science laboratories supplied by World ORT as part of Kadima Mada (Science Journey) has taken place at the Technion Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa. Headed by Professor Yehudit Dori of the Technions Department of Education in Technology and Science, the three-hour session was attended by 25 science teachers from schools participating in Kadima Mada and which have received Nova 5000 data loggers. The 56-hour training course, which will be made available to a total of 100 Kadima Mada science teachers, builds on the basic training from the manufacturer of the data loggers, Fourier Systems Company. Showing the teachers how to get the most out of the data loggers is not the only purpose of this training, said Dr Yakov Ronkin, World ORTs Research and Development Coordinator. We are also aiming to enhance the teachers professional development within the context of the computerised laboratory, to enable the teachers to create a learning environment within their schools laboratories, and to stimulate the teachers thought processes so that they can transfer the skills to their pupils. Dr Ronkin said the collaboration with the Technion meant that the science teachers were enjoying access to world class expertise in the field. World ORT is always looking forward and always aiming to be at the forefront of technology so partnership with a prestigious institution such as the Technion is very welcome, he said. The data loggers have sensors which allow biology, chemistry and physics students to perform experiments and see the results immediately displayed as a graph on the computer screen. This allows the students to focus on understanding the experiment and developing higher order thinking skills. Yossi Dagan, Principal and physics teacher at Nofei Golan High School in Katzrin, said: We have been using the data loggers with senior students for several months now. I am all in favour of further incorporating the equipment in the class room and developing the concept of the computerised science laboratory. This enables us to not just talk theory to the pupils. They can now go and do it for themselves and witness it all on-line with their own eyes. It is simply fantastic. The developer of the training course, the Technions Dr Orit Herscovitz, said it had been staggered to reflect the fact that the teachers will need to do what is expected of their pupils if they are to enhance the learning environment through computerised experiments. The design of the course means the teachers become students as they learn the material, then they have to function as teachers as they prepare and develop assignments for each other and finally, as developers, they need to create a study programme, Dr Herscovitz said. So, instead of focusing on the technical aspects of the equipment, the teachers will also learn what they need to do to set up experiments, how to prepare students verbally, how to prepare written instructions and what needs to be done after an experiment. Each teacher who does this course should be able to raise the level of any one of their classes by one whole level, regardless of the starting level of the students, Dr Herscovitz said.