Davidson Institute of Science Education

Prof. Haim Harari, Chairman of the Board

Dr. Ariel Heimann, Director General

The Davidson Institute strives to advance science, mathematics, and technology education in Israel. Its mission spans upon a range of activities aimed at teachers, school-children and the general public conducted over more than 40 years.

The Institute draws heavily on the cooperation of the Weizmann Institute's scientific community. The involvement of scientists and research students in all its programs provides our target audiences with the unique and indispensable experience of interacting with active scientists and their work. In addition, the influence of several Davidson Institute's programs (on the school-children's and teachers' performance in school) is being researched by Ph.D. students from the Weizmann Institute's Department of Science Teaching. The Davidson Institute aspires to include a wide spectrum of target groups and activities. Activities are offered to populations ranging from young children to adults, from Israel and from abroad, from the north to the south of the country, from the nearby center and from the periphery, from various communities (Jews, Christians, Arabs, and Druze), and from those who can pay to those in need of scholarships. Activities range from one-time or short-term activities to multi-year intensive programs; the content ranges from very advanced level to popular science for a non-scientific audience, and is offered in a variety of languages (Hebrew, English, Arabic, and Spanish). Over 300,000 individuals participate in a wide range of activities annually. The Davidson Institute's staff and activities are organized in two mini-campuses within the Weizmann Institute: the southern campus houses most of the Students Activities Unit, the Teachers Professional Development Unit, the Technology in Education Unit and the Perach tutorial project, while the northern complex houses most of the Science for All Unit activities, including the Clore Garden of Science.

Following the recent process of re-organization, the Davidson Institute experienced a fruitful year in 2009-10. Several entirely new programs were initiated:

Many other programs such as Katom laptop project, Science camps for youth, Astronomy for All, Science by Mail, etc. extended the scope of their activities to new audiences and broadened their areas of influence.

Students Activities' Unit - TELEM1
Dr. Yehuda Ben-Hur, Head

The Unit nurtures and advances the scientific and technological education in the formal education system as well as in chosen informal frameworks, focusing on the student as the main part of the educational cycle. The Students Unit plans, organizes and performs a variety of programs for classes and individual students, in all grades and levels. The Units' programs address the needs of excellent students interested in advanced science and technology, regular classes of heterogeneous population, low-achieving at-risk students, and high school drop outs.
The Unit includes the following programs:

"SHLAV"2 : A program for the Advancement of Low Achievers in Mathematics
The SHLAV program for advancing low achievers in mathematics at the secondary school level aims at increasing the number of at-risk students who pass the Matriculation exam in mathematics. The program seeks to promote equity in the mathematical education offered to Israeli students by improving the quality of mathematics teaching in low-track mathematics classes, especially in the peripheral and low-income areas of Israel. The program started in 2004 and shifted in 2007-8 from its pilot phase to an extended mode of implementation. In the 2009-10 school year the program was active in 29 classes spread all over Israel, including schools from the Arab and Druze sectors.

Science Programs for Classes
The "Science Programs for Classes" program introduces topics from the frontiers of science to k-12 classes within single or multi-day frameworks. It aims to stimulate students' curiosity and challenge their scientific thinking through advanced inquiry experiments conducted by teachers and students, using state-of-the art laboratory equipment. The program encompasses activities in chemistry, physics, biology, biotechnology and environmental science. The framework includes:

In the 2009-10 school year the program was attended by 770 classes, totaling 22,000 students from all over Israel.

An additional 7,500 students in 250 classes from all over the country enjoyed science enrichment activities brought to their schools by the "Science Mobile". The Science Mobile is a large van, equipped with scientific exhibits and educational aids, which carries instructors and the science programs to outlying schools, in order to convey the excitement of scientific discovery to the students and teachers in 4th -9th grades. Moreover, beginning in the 2009-10 school year, the Science Mobile is involved in the "School for hospitalized children" programs in Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, and in Asaf Harofe Medical Center.

"KATOM"3 - Preparing the teachers and students for education in the digital era by integrating laptop computers into class educational activities
KATOM is an educational program whose goal is to promote and pave the road to more advanced and updated learning and teaching methods by integrating laptop computers (or any other future technical appliance) into class activities. The program is focused on the concept of providing school students and their teachers with laptops as tools that enhance and enrich their learning experience.

Based on the experience of recent years, establishing the 'KATOM community' with main focus in supporting teachers along the process is essential. Special emphasis is placed on a teachers' development program, focusing on the new educational process and the changes it requires from all parties involved - teachers, students, parents and the local authorities. In addition, the program supports a special purpose website to facilitate the KATOM community to promote collaboration.

In order to study the effects of this intervention, an evaluation process is being applied as an essential part of the experiment, thus enabling appropriate adjustments based on on-line data collection analysis. In 2009-10 school-year the KATOM program has significantly expanded its activities, by adding over 1,500 students, 240 teachers and 54 new classes nationwide to the laptop learning and teaching community with a notable expansion in Ashdod. Ashdod municipality adopted KATOM to be the leading computer program implemented in junior high school, thus adding 11 schools to the KATOM community. In Yoqneam, Kfar Saba, Carmiel and Kiryat Ata new classes joined the program within already active schools, expanding the local KATOM community beyond its existing scope. In total, KATOM is currently being implemented in 26 schools in 12 municipalities, with new participants from Beit Shemesh and Gesher Haziv, (in addition to Ashdod). The KATOM community in 2010 includes 2400 students (7th-9th grade) and 400 teachers.

The School of Contemporary Science
The School of Contemporary Science complements the formal educational system. It attempts to assist outstanding students interested in expanding their knowledge beyond the level taught at school, by exposing them to the latest advancements and developments in science and technology. Meeting the highest standards, the School offers interdisciplinary courses not addressed within the regular school system, taught by a highly professional staff of the Davidson Institute, in collaboration with the Weizmann Department of Science Teaching, and, in some cases, in collaboration with outside organizations such as HEMDA Science Center in Tel Aviv and El-Op Industries.

The courses are carried out in the framework of regional classes. Depending on the particular course, students are usually eligible for academic credit towards the matriculation exams. In 2009-10, the School offered seven courses:

Over 500 students took part in the various courses of the School of Contemporary Science in the 2009-10 school year.

"Active Science" Education Activities for Youth
MAPATZ – Hebrew acronym for Young Active Science Groups - was developed by the Davidson Institute of Science Education in the belief that science can be used as a mean to promote and develop students. The program operates as a tool to empower students with unfulfilled potential, to enhance their motivation and help them reach their true abilities. The program uses "hands-on" science activities as a tool to give these students a sense of self-efficacy and increase their confidence by developing social and academic skills of team work, communication, logical and critical thinking, and investigative skills. Members of the Davidson Institute staff carefully train, support, and guide the instructors, and provide supervision throughout the program season. The program consists of three modules:

"CAMP" module creates science activities for high-school students who have dropped out of the formal educational system. In this framework, 15-18-year-old boys and girls participate in a four-hour weekly science course for three years. The courses focus on scientific topics intended to attract, challenge and interest the participants, such as "Science and Music," "Science of Toys," "The Environment and Me", etc. In the 2009-10 academic year, around 110 boys and girls from the towns of Lod, Rehovot, Rishon-LeZion, Nes-Ziona, Yahud, Ramle , Tamra, Ashdod, Beer-Sheva, Kiryat-Gat, Netanya, Yavneh, Daliyat el-Carmel, Tirat-haCarmel, and Ashkelon took part in the program, carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the National Insurance Institute and the local authorities.

"KAMATZ" module provides science activities for underachieving middle school students (12-14 years old) to prevent them from dropping out in the future. The program is geared at children at the bottom third of their classes, who are underachieving but are not necessarily less talented than their peers. Each group is led by a team of two instructors. Currently the KAMATZ program runs in the following towns: Kiryat Malachi, Nes-Ziona, Sderot, Rishon-LeZion, Hadera and Yerucham.

The "KAMEA" module was designed to help immigrant students with a high potential to excel and assist their integration into Israeli society. The KAMEA program operated this year as a pilot program in the town of Lod. The group consisted of 19 seventh-grade middle-school first-and second-generation immigrants with relatively high capabilities. Focusing on scientific theory, the program led to in-depth discussions of scientific and technological concepts. Throughout the course, the students bonded and formed very positive friendships. This group's members were characterized by their willingness to help each other, their teamwork skills, and their curiosity and interest in the subject matter. The participants' relationship with the KAMEA instructors was excellent, and attendance was among the highest in the MAPATZ program.

In the 2009-10 academic year 35 groups (~ 450 students) took part in the MAPATZ program. At the conclusion of the year, the students in all frameworks presented their individual and group projects in a "Science Fair" for parents, teachers, and peers.

Science for All Unit – "Shoam"8
Dr. Kobi Lavie, Head

The Science for All Unit aims at stimulating the enthusiasm and interest of school children and adults in science and scientific thinking. The Unit offers a great variety of enrichment activities for different audiences of all ages, in almost every field of science.

Most of the Unit's programs take place at the Davidson Institute's northern campus, which includes the Laub International Science Youth Village and laboratories. The Laub International Science Youth Village, a dormitory facility with 20 rooms that accommodates up to 80 people, a clubhouse, office, and the village square, offers accommodations participants in the summer programs and also allows multi-day programs for students from all over Israel and abroad. Some of the Unit's programs receive support from the Ministry of Education and from the Ministry of Culture.

Below is a listing of the programs offered by the Unit and the number of their participants in the 2009-10 school year:
Weekly Science Clubs: After-school clubs in chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, computer science, astronomy and robotics were attended by 320 students from (3rd -12th grade).

Math-by-Mail: An international correspondence program via mail, email and the web platform, aimed at math enthusiasts from 3rd to 9th grade. In the 2009-10 school-year over 2,500 participants in Israel, Canada, Mexico, Australia and the USA enjoyed the program in its Hebrew, English, Spanish and Arabic versions.

Science-by-Mail: Math by Mail's "sister program," initiated in 2007, offered in 2009-10 in Israel in Hebrew and Arabic to over 400 students.

"Arrow" program for young researchers: A research program aimed at nurturing young scientists. Top 10th grade students from all over Israel participate in this three year program, starting with an overview of modern science (10th grade) followed by involvement in individual research projects (11th grade) under the supervision of a WIS scientist/graduate student. 248 students in total participated in the program in the 2009-10 school-year.

"Young Buds" program: A three year scientific program for outstanding 9th grade students from selected peripheral settlements. Through lectures, various lab activities and tours of the Weizmann Institute's facilities the students are introduced to a world of contemporary scientific research emphasizing the unsolved questions in science and how they are dealt with. The program also attempts to confront the students with bio-ethical dilemmas incorporating Jewish and other ethics. 200 students in total participated in this program.

"Sparks of Science": A unique science enrichment program, focusing on reinforcement of curricular Math and English and on individual tutorship for 9th to 12th grade students of Ethiopian origin. The program's main goal is to bring these students to a level which will enable them to be admitted to academic science and engineering education. 250 students took part in this program in the 2009-10 school year.

"Women Scientists Today and Tomorrow": A mentoring program aimed at encouraging female high school students to pursue professional career in science by using one-on-one email communication. 20 girls and 20 female WIS researchers participated in the program in 2009-10.

Summer Science Residential Programs in which the participants work in actual research laboratories, mentored by a WIS graduate students and scientists.

Competitions in Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics:

Lectures and activities in popular science:

The Annual "Science Festival" – The Weizmann Institute opens its gates to the general public for two days of scientific thrill, for the first time this year during the Sukkoth vacation. The festivities include exhibits, competitions, performances, workshops and guided tours. Science lovers of all ages have the opportunity to experience the excitement of scientific inquiry and explore the natural world through hands-on experiments. Weizmann Institute's research teams, at the forefront of world science, present their fields of research using demonstrations and simple, accessible language. Tours of the campus take visitors through the festival's attractions and introducing them to the Institute's historical sites, scientific labs and other attractions. The evenings are dedicated to panel discussions and 'Science Café' activities, featuring talks by top Weizmann scientists. This year, the festival took place on September 27-28, 2010, attracting around 10,500 visitors. Activity locations were spread all around the institute at six main areas: Solar-Tower building, Clore Garden of Science, "Knowledge-ranch", "Jubilee plaza", in addition to performance area and the Davidson mini campus. Furthermore, many guest organizations contributed to the festival with various activities: 'Techno-Da' from Haifa, Jerusalem Science Museum of Science, Israel's Police Department, IDF, etc.

Delegations to Programs Abroad:

The Clore Garden of Science

The Clore Garden is an open-air science museum, unique among science museums as its entire collection of exhibits is displayed outdoors. Ever since its establishment in 1998, the garden has been a center for innovation and inspiration to science museums all over the world. Clore Garden introduces its visitors - students, families and the general public to the fascinating world of natural science phenomena, using its one-of-a-kind exhibits, which demonstrate various principles in physics.

In the course of the 2009-10 school-year, a total of 59,137 visitors toured the Clore Garden of Science. Around 31,000 were students (most of them visiting with their classes), and around 14,000 were adults (visiting in group or in individual frameworks).

Here are the various programs and activities that took place at the Garden during this period:

Teachers' Professional Development Unit - Hatmada9
Dr. Zahava Scherz, Head

The Unit promotes and nurtures professional development of teachers throughout the various phases of their career in fields of science, technology and mathematics teaching (k-12) by advancing their continuous professional development, new pedagogical strategies and by creating an active and welcoming "home" for teachers (professional training, enrichment, counseling and guidance). The Unit's activities are coordinated and recognized by the Israeli Ministry of Education.

The Teachers' Professional Development Unit plans and conducts following programs:

Technology in Education Unit – "Yitav"10
Dr. Yossi Elran, Head

The TIEU unit was established in June 2009 in order to deal with all technology related projects at the Davidson Institute. The main goal of the unit is to develop, implement and promote the use of novice technologies (in particular web and computer based technologies) in science education.
The TIEU is comprised of three teams:

The main emphasis of the TIEU in 2009/10 was to make a concerted effort on part of all the teams so that the Davidson Institute will be able to bridge the technological gap that widened in the past years:

PERACH11 Tutoring and Mentoring Project
Dr. Amos Carmeli, Director

The PERACH project was established in 1974 by a handful of students from the Weizmann Institute of Science. This tutorial project pairs up children from a disadvantaged background with university students who act as their mentors. The students receive a partial scholarship and /or academic credits in return to their work with children.

Today, approximately 15% of all students in Israel's institutes of higher education and tens of thousands of children in need are taking part in the project each year. A significant percentage of Perach's mentors and mentees come from minority groups.

Being the largest organization of its kind in the world, Perach has become a source of inspiration and practical support to Perach-like organizations, now operating in about twenty countries worldwide.

In 2008, the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, Perach was awarded the Israel Prize for a lifetime contribution to the state and society.

In 2010 there were 25,536 tutors in 1,215 schools or projects in most cities and towns, all over Israel. Approximately 24% of Perach's tutors are students from the minority sectors and about two-thirds of Perach's tutors operate in the south and north of Israel, while most of Israel's students study in the center of the country. In the described period, 82% of all Perach's tutors were giving individual tuition and the number of those tutored by them was equal to the number of students. 18% of the tutors led various group activities and worked with many diverse projects (such as health, education, , sciences, leadership, nature studies, law etc.), according to their capabilities and qualifications. A total of over 55,000 children and youth benefited from Perach activities this year.

Perach also runs nine hands-on science centers, six communication centers and fifty enrichment centers in peripheral areas and under-resourced neighborhoods all over Israel. In 2010 Perach inaugurated two new "Havayeda Teva" (interactive science centers) in Beer Sheva and Bat Yam, as well as two new communication centers in Ariel and in Tamra. During 2009/10 more than 200,000 people visited Perach's centers.

1"TELEM" is the Hebrew acronym for "Students Learn Science"
2"SHLAV" is an acronym in Hebrew for Improving Mathematics Learning
   "Shlav" also means 'a step' in Hebrew
3"KATOM" is an acronym (in Hebrew) for the Computer for Every Class, Student and Teacher
4"MOACH" is an acronym (in Hebrew) for "Computational Science". "Moach" also means 'brain' in Hebrew
5 "CAMP" is an acronym (in Hebrew) for "Active Science Groups".
6"KAMATZ" is an acronym (in Hebrew) for "Young Science Groups".
7"KAMEA" is an acronym (in Hebrew) for "Active Science Immigrants "
8"Shoam" is the Hebrew acronym for "Science and Education Oriented"
9"Hatmada" is the Hebrew acronym for "Professional Development for Science Teachers"
10"Yitav" is the Hebrew acronym for "Technology in Education Unit"
11Perach is acronym for tutoring project