Science Teaching

Uri Ganiel, Head
The Rudy Bruner Professor of Science Teaching

The Department is composed of groups working in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental sciences, life sciences, and science and technology for junior-high school. In all these areas there are extensive research and development projects, aimed at producing improved and up-dated learning materials that integrate the use of modern technologies, and implementing these materials throughout the Israeli education system. Work is based on an underlying philosophy that considers curriculum development and implementation, teacher in-service development, research and evaluation as an interrelated and continuous long-term activity. Textbook writing, development of a wide variety of materials for non-frontal teaching, teacher education, cognitive research, and the dissemination of information, are some of the many aspects of our complex of activities.

During the year 2000, we continued to work in all the areas mentioned above. We have also expanded our programs for the professional development of teachers. We operate four national support centers for teachers in mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and for science and technology in junior high school. The national centers serve as sources of support, information and materials for teacher education throughout the country, as well as being the site for training teachers to assume leadership roles in their schools or districts.

Some of the main R&D projects are described briefly below.

Mathematics Group

The CompuMath Program: Design, development and implementation of innovative approaches to teaching mathematics through curriculum materials for junior-high school, that take advantage of computerized tools. Research on learning and teaching in classrooms which study according to this program.

Heterogenous classes: Design, development and implementation of innovative approaches to teaching mathematics in junior high school to accommodate the needs of several student sub-populations, in the same classroom.

"Math for all"(the Shay Program): Design, development and implementation of a program for non-mathematically oriented high school students, based on informal sense-making and graphical approaches to the official matriculation syllabus. Research on learning by students who are not mathematically oriented.

The MathComp Program: Development, implementation and research of mathematical activities for students using the capabilities of Computer Algebra Systems, with textbooks for teacher education.

Elementary math: Design, development and implementation of mathematical investigations. The activities require fifth and sixth graders' use of computerized tools.

The group runs the National Mathematics Teacher Center (see below).

Physics group

The group is involved in new developments of the classical high school physics courses (Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Optics and Waves) as well as elective courses (Lasers, Chaos). The courses use instructional strategies that are sensitive to student learning processes and foster active involvement. Computerized networks for course delivery are studied in selected topics. The group is active in the development of computerized learning environments and didactical methods for introducing computer based activities into the curriculum.

The group runs a National Teacher Center responsible for coordinating the professional development of physics teachers throughout Israel (see below).

The group is engaged in research studies aimed at improving the learning process in several areas: Methods for fostering control and feedback in students' problem-solving activities; Models for integrating the computer into physics learning to enhance understanding; Detailed studies of the implementation of new instructional strategies, and investigation of the utility of strategies for fostering teacher change in our long-term teacher courses.

Chemistry Group

The chemistry group develops new teaching units and instructional techniques, based on the diagnostic assessment of students' learning difficulties and misconceptions, their frames of interest and motivational characteristics.

Currently the group is involved in developing two modules that are part of the new syllabus in chemistry for 10th grade students - "Chemistry, 2000". The titles of these modules are: "The Nature of Chemistry" and "Chemistry and Life"

These modules include written material (textbooks) and interactive computer programs. The project is accompanied by a comprehensive study regarding the definition, characterization, and assessment of chemical literacy.

In order to improve the learning in the chemistry laboratory, the group is involved in the development and implementation of inquiry type experiments. Courses for teachers are conducted to train them to use such laboratories. Methods for assessing students' progress achievement in such laboratories are developed and implemented in schools all over the country.

The group runs National Center for Chemistry Teachers (see below).

The link center with the chemical industry that was established by the group helps schools in conducting industrial field trips, and provides instructional materials, such as information about industries, films, and booklets that help in the planning and execution of these field trips.

Science and Technology for All (MUTAV project)

This project consists of development of interdisciplinary learning modules aimed at non-science oriented students (who opted not to specialize in the disciplinary sciences). To date the following modules were developed: "Energy and the Human Being", "Science as an ever Developing Entity", "From the Dinosaurs to Darvin", "Brain, Medicine & Drugs", and "The Black Gold". More recently the group started the development of a module that deals with forensic science.

Research is conducted on students' achievements as well as on their interest to learn science, as a result of studying these modules. These studies have clearly shown that these modules are adequate for this target population.

The group conducted several teachers workshops for science teachers (e.g. Biology, chemistry physics and agriculture).

Diagnostic research on students' knowledge prior to the study of these modules accompanies the development effort.

Science and Technology in Junior-High School Group

A new syllabus for the unified subject Science and Technology in Junior-High School of has been developed, and the group is part of a national attempt to realize this syllabus. The curriculum attempts to cultivate scientific and technological literacy for all citizens and to prepare the necessary background for further studies. To achieve these goals, the curriculum focuses on a thorough understanding of basic concepts and emphasizes the development of independent learning skills in the context of subject matter. The curriculum is coordinated, namely, it integrates knowledge among the sciences and between science and technology. An interdisciplinary approach is adopted when appropriate, but not as a rule. Social aspects and relevance to the individual student are central considerations in the choice of activities. The group is involved in intensive activities with teachers throughout the country, and educates teacher leaders.

Formative evaluation of the new materials is accompanied by the investigation of new instructional strategies, including a constructivist approach to the study of the particulate model of matter, project-based learning, knowledge integration using special computerized programs for knowledge representation, and learning science using a historical approach. The group also conducts research on the professional development of teachers and teacher-leaders, and investigates new methods of student assessment.

Computer Science Group

The group develops courses in computer science for senior high-school students: fundamentals of algorithms and programming for the grades 10-11, logic programming, artificial intelligence and expert systems for grades 11-12, and concurrent and distributed computation for the 12th grade. Extensive teacher training and research on cognitive aspects of learning computer science is interwoven with the development efforts. Our current research focusses on the use of visualization and animation, and on teaching object-oriented programming to beginning students.

Earth and Environmental Sciences

The group is involved in curriculum development, implementation and evaluation involving target populations from kindergarten to high school. The Curriculum materials are developed for a variety of learning environments: the laboratory, the outdoors, the computer and the classroom.

Ongoing projects include: development of new curriculum materials for the senior high school on Earthquakes, The Carbon Cycle, Plate Tectonics and Evolution in the dimension of geological time. Development of new curriculum materials for junior high school on The Rock Cycle, The Water Cycle and Earth Systems. Utilizing the outdoors as a learning environment through geological field trips; The Geotope: an investigation project performed by students, and Let's Rock - a curriculum for kindergarten.

Life Sciences Group

The life sciences group attempts to adapt processes used by the scientific community to the processes by which students are building their knowledge within the discipline of biology., This year we initiated the development of computerized learning material in bioinformatics, which will allow students to use strategies used by scientists in the field. In addition, we present one of the units for the advanced senior high school biology students, in a format of scientific papers ("The secrets of embryonic development: study through research"). Interactive computerized learning activities are developed to supplement our Immunology unit ("An adventure in the immune system"). The life sciences group also develops curriculum units for the junior-high school level. These units concentrate on disciplinary topics in biology (i.e.: "Let's characterize life") as well as on interdisciplinary topics, in which biological principles are presented together with concepts and processes in physics, chemistry or earth sciences (i.e.: "Senses and Sensors"). The development of all curriculum units is accompanied by in-service teacher training and in-school teacher guidance.

National Teacher Centers

We have established four national teacher centers: one in mathematics, one in physics, one in chemistry, and one in science and technology in junior-high school. The first three were established in 1994 and the last one in 2000. The overriding aim of the national centers is to provide a strong framework to support teacher development. They are responsible for the following activities:

  1. Education and advancement of professional leadership of teachers.
  2. Support and counseling to professional development programs and activities in the regional teacher centers.
  3. Development of a professional teachers' community.
  4. Establishing a resource database.
  5. Carrying out research and evaluation.

Research Staff, Visitors and Students

Prof. Uri Ganiel, Head of Department and Physics Group
The Rudy Bruner Professor of Science Teaching

Mathematics

Dr. Abraham Arcavi, Head of the Mathematics Group
Incumbent of the Walter and Elise Haas Career Development Chair
Prof. Maxim Bruckheimer
The Chief Justice Bora Laskin Professor of Science Teaching (retired Sept. 2000)
Miriam Carmeli
Dr. Ruhama Even
Incumbent of The Reiter Family Career Development Chair
Dr. Alex Friedlander
Nurit Hadas
Dr. Rina Hershkowitz (retired June 2000)
Neomi Robinson
Dr. Neomi Taizi
Dr. Nurit Zehavi

The following work in the group part-time:

Naama AdinJean Albert
Yoni AmirNeli Argaman (left March 2000)
Huria Badir (left November 2000)Hasida Bar-Zohar
Yedida Ben-Nun (left August 2000)Rachel Buhadana
Zipora BuskilaProf. Tommy Dreyfus (consultant)
Avital Elboim-Cohen (left August 2000)Orly Gottlieb
Ellias HayakNili Hirshfeld
Judith InbarYousef Khoury
Dr. Ivy KidronSara Kiro
Maya KorenLilia Kot
Musa Marwan (left June 2000)Rozi Naamati
Ita NaftalisSara Omer
Ester OppenheimGila Ozruso
Naomi PrusakHayuta Regev (left August 2000)
Ofra RegevZipora Resnick
Shelly RotaTzipora Schulman (left March 2000)
Dr. Baruch Schwarz (consultant)(left Sept. 2000)Dr. Josephine Shamash-Smith (left Aug. 2000)
Nurit ShmueliRaid Shurush
Dr. Johann Van Dormolen (consultant)Yetty Varon (statistician to all groups)
Leah Vasertill

Physics

Prof. Uri Ganiel, Head of Group
The Rudy Bruner Professor of Science Teaching
Dr. Rami Arieli
Dr. Ester Bagno
Prof. Bat-Sheva Eylon
Dr. Avi Marchewka
Adi Rosen

The following work in the group part-time:

Rachel BradaDr. Clarissa Berkovitch
Zvi Geller (consultant)Dr. Hana Goldring (consultant)
Smadar LeviEster Magen
Shlomo RosenfeldAsher Vaknin
Irena VeismanHenia Willf

Chemistry

Dr. Ruth Ben-Zvi, Head of Group
The Ann Landers Research Fellow
Prof. Avi Hofstein
Dr. Miri Kesner
Dr. Rachel Mamluk

The following work in the group part-time:

Ziva Bar-DovNeomi Ernst
Dvora KatchevichMira Kipnis
Dr. Shelli LivneDr. Haled Matar
Nava MilnerDina Rappaport
Sara ShaniRegina Shor
Dr. Michal Zeltner

Computer Science

Prof. Mordechai Ben-Ari, Head of Group
Dr. Zahava Scherz

The following work in the group part-time:

Dr. Bruria HabermanDafna Levi-Rishti
Hana MahlebSara Pollak
Nurit ReichAhuva Tikvati

Geology

Prof. Nir Orion, Head of Group
Incumbent of Anna and Maurice Boukstein Career Development Chair

The following work in the group part-time:

Ron Ben-ShalomMina Blat
Carmel GorniYossi Gudovich
Ronit LaubDr. Nurit-Zehava Ronen

Life Sciences

Dr. Anat Yarden, Head of Group
Dr. Gillat Brill

The following work in the group part-time:

Merav Abrahami
Hedda Falk
Henia Guy
Hadas Gelbart
Dr. Yael Piontkewitz
Dr. Ilana Schmidt-Hopfeld

Science and Technology for Junior High School

Prof. Bat-Sheva Eylon, Head of Group
Dr. Oved Kedem
Prof. Nir Orion
Incumbent of Anna and Maurice Boukstein Career Development Chair
Dr. Zahava Scherz
Dr. Anat Yarden

The following work in the group part-time:

Dr. Liat Ben-DavidDr. Yehuda Ben-Hur
Mordechai Ben-ZuckKaiily Elran
Orna FalikDora Gidoni
Sara KuintRivka Lakritz (left Nov. 2000)
Dr. Yossi NusbaumMiriam Oren
Eran Peleg (left Aug. 2000)Dr. Yael Piontkewitz
Geula Zer-KavodRovena Rosansky
Ada RosenbergDr. Sherman Rosenfeld
Leora Saar (left Aug. 2000)Ester Shachar (left Nov. 2000)
Varda ShiloDr. Yaron Schor
Dr. Ilana Schmidt-HopfeldMalka Yayon

Research Staff, Visitors and Students (by rank)

Professors

Maxim Bruckheimer, Ph.D., Southampton University (until Septembert 2000)
The Chief Justice Bora Laskin Professor of Science Teaching (until September 2000)
Uri Ganiel, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science
The Rudy Bruner Professor of Science Teaching
Professor Emeritus

Maxim Bruckheimer, Ph.D., Southampton University (from October 2000)

Associate Professors

Mordechai Ben-Ari, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University
Bat Sheva Eylon, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Nir Orion, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science
Incumbent of Anna and Maurice Boukstein Career Development Chair (until November 2000)
Avi Hofstein, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science

Senior Scientists

Abraham Arcavi, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science
Incumbent of the Walter and Elise Haas Career Development Chair
Ruth Ben-Zvi, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Ruhama Even, Ph.D., Michigan State University, USA
Incumbent of the Reiter Family Career Development Chair

Senior Staff Scientists

Alex Friedlander, Ph.D., Michigan State University, USA
Zahava Scherz, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Associate Staff Scientists

Esther Bagno, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science
Miri Kesner, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science

Special Contract

Anat Yarden, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science

Science Education Staff

Nurit Hadas, M.A., Tel Aviv University
Ilana Hopfeld, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science
Rina Hershkovitz, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (retired June 2000)
Sheli Livne, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science
Naomi Robinson, M.A., Tel Aviv University
Adi Rosen, M.Sc., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Sherman Rosenfeld, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Josephine Smit-Shemesh, Ph.D., Yale University (left August 2000)
Naomi Taizi, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University
Yetty Varon, M.Sc., The Weizmann Institute of Science
Nurit Zehavi, Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science

Postdoctoral Fellows

Gilat Brill, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Ivy Kidron, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Rachel Mamlok, Ph.D., Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan
Avi Marchewka, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University

Research Students

Orit Ben Zvi-AssarafDan Ben-Zvi
Clarisa Bercovich-GulmanMiriam Carmi
Dvora CohenJeff Dodick
Yossi GudovitchYacov Helfman
Yael KaliEsther Kapulnik
Mira KipnisYifat Kolikant
Tova KuatinskyDorothy Langley
Hannah MargelYael Naot
Noa RagonisYael Shwartz
Shay SofferOrnit Spektor-Levy
Tali WallachCecile Yehezkel
Idit Yerushalmi

Administrator

Mali Karni