Science Teaching

Bat Sheva Eylon, Head

The Chief Justice Bora Laskin Professorial Chair of Science Teaching

The Department is composed of groups working in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental sciences, life sciences, science and technology for junior-high school, and interdisciplinary issues. In all these areas there are extensive research and development projects, aimed at (1) studying science and mathematics learning and teaching and their development, (2) producing and implementing improved and up-to-date learning and teaching materials that integrate the use of modern technologies, and (3) providing professional development for teachers, all over Israel. Work is based on an underlying philosophy that considers curriculum development and implementation, teacher professional development, research and evaluation as interrelated and continuous long-term activities. Research studies focus on cognitive, socio-cultural and affective aspects of learning, teaching and learning to teach science and mathematics. The studies use various research methodologies: quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods.

The department operates several programs to promote the life-long learning and professional development of teachers: (1) Three national centers for science teachers (chemistry, physics, and science and technology in junior high school) that specialize in the development of leadership among science teachers and in continuous professional development for science teachers using effective models. The centers serve as academic professional source for development of teachers, support and counsel regional professional development programs, provide resource materials, and accompany the activities with research and evaluation. The National Centers are supported financially by the Ministry of Education (MALAM). (2) A program for students and graduates of the Feinberg Graduate School that grants teaching certificates. To date the program has educated 44 teachers. (3) A program for training mentor teachers to become guides of beginning teachers in schools. To date it has trained 100 mentor-teachers. (4) The Rothschild-Weizmann Program for Excellence in Science Teaching described below.

In the academic year 2008-2009 in collaboration with the scientific departments of the Institute, the department started the Rothschild-Weizmann Program for Excellence in Science Teaching. The program supports excellent science and math teachers in obtaining an MSc from the Feinberg Graduate School in science and mathematics teaching. The program aims to empower teachers by providing them with unique opportunities to expand their knowledge of science and science teaching and be involved in innovative professional activities. Ninety seven high school teachers are currently enrolled in the program in four disciplines: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics. Scientists in these four disciplines and science educators have designed about 60 special courses for the program and mentor teachers in preparation of final projects. The program also operates a non-degree track for leading teachers for development and implementation of innovative field initiatives.

Mathematics Group
Ruhama Even, Head

Integrated Mathematics Program (Matematica meshulevet – R. Even, A. Friedlander): In response to the introduction of a new junior-high school mathematics curriculum by the Ministry of Education, the group is developing a new comprehensive junior-high school mathematics curriculum program. The program emphasizes problem solving, thinking, and reasoning for all students. It approaches the teaching of mathematics in junior-high schools in a spiral way, making connections among mathematical concepts, topics and domains. The experimental edition is currently trialed in more than 150 schools (more than 35,000 7th and 8th grade students).

Rehovot Excellence Program (Metzuyanut Rehovot – A. Friedlander & R. Even): To address the needs of the most advanced and talented students, the group develops also materials for excellent junior-high school students. The materials include mathematical investigation activities, aiming at deepening and broadening student knowledge of mathematics. The experimental edition of the 7th and 8th grade materials is currently trialed in several schools.

Professional Development for Teachers (R. Even):

The School for Nature and Environment Studies in Tel-Aviv Project (A. Friedlander): This selective "magnet" school was established in 1986. In view of the school's special focus and character, we cater for its needs by developing and experimenting with innovative learning materials and teaching frameworks for the general student population and for the mathematically talented students in particular. At a later stage, the developed materials and models are implemented in other schools and teacher activities as well.

Same Teacher – Different Classes: the Interactions among teachers, curricula and classrooms (R. Even): The overarching aim of this research program is to gain insights about the complex interactions among teachers, curriculum and classrooms. To achieve that we compare teaching and learning mathematics in different classes of the same teacher and of different teachers, examining the enacted curricula, the teaching practices, the classroom culture, the mathematics offered to students, etc. In addition to studying actual classroom teaching in different classes of the same teacher and of different teachers, we study teachers' views on the textbooks they use and which curriculum materials they desire. The findings provide useful information for the curriculum and teaching development projects of the group.

Physics Group
Bat-Sheva Eylon, Head

The group carries out research, development and implementation activities to advance the teaching of physics in grades 7-12. The activities aim to enhance the learning of the basic syllabus by all the students and to provide special programs and activities for excellent and underachieving students. A central objective of the group is the long term professional development of the community of physics teachers in Israel. The Group operates two internet sites in physics education: an internet site for physics teachers ( and an internet site for physics students (ALEPH.) ( In addition to many learning materials and activities, the teachers use the site to run activities offered through the teacher site (see below).

The PELE project (B. Eylon, E. Bagno): The goal of this project is the research- based development of a new track towards the physics matriculation that will enable teachers to extend the learning experiences that are available to their students (e.g. a variety of inquiry activities in the school lab, project-based learning, learning from articles, out of school environments and topics extending the regular syllabus). A central component of students' assessment in this track will be a portfolio documenting their activities and the development of inquiry skills. Presently, about 30 teachers are enrolled in a pilot program. This year, the students of 10 teachers from this group will matriculate according to the new track. A PhD study investigates the teachers' learning and professional development in the process of introducing the new track into their classrooms.

'Physics and Industry' (B. Eylon): This program is carried out in collaboration of the physics group with the Electro-Optics industries and the Davidson Institute of Science. It targets excellent and interested physics students in grades 11-12 and is implemented by R. Arieli and D. Langley in the Davidson School of Contemporary Science. In the last 10 years, 271 excellent students studied in the program. Presently it is implemented also with high-potential students from low socio-economic backgrounds. This version of the program aims to develop these students' self-efficacy, learning skills and autonomy in learning, and their scientific and technological knowledge and problem-solving skills. A PhD study investigates the learning processes of these students and the attainment of the above mentioned learning goals.

The National Center for Physics Teachers (E. Bagno, B. Eylon): The overarching goal of the Center is to promote the professional development of physics teachers (about 1200 teachers) and to raise the quality of physics learning and teaching in Israeli high schools. Accordingly, the central activities of the Center focus on enhancing physics teachers' knowledge, establishing teacher leadership, maintaining professional interaction among teachers and supporting teachers' practice. The Center runs an interactive didactic website for teachers. The website is used extensively by the teachers, responding continuously to their needs and providing them with on-going support and user-friendly materials for instruction, ready for downloading and editing. The website enables teachers to interact with their colleagues. The Center conducts leadership workshops, designs and collects resource materials for the teaching of physics and runs a variety of projects. The Center works closely with the Ministry of Education. It coordinates many of the operations related to physics education in Israel and supports the implementation of national initiatives. The Center publishes an on-line journal for physics teachers (Tehuda) and organizes an annual conference and seminars for the physics teachers.

The Physics Center, in collaboration with the Junior-high School Center, has embarked this year on a program for promoting the teaching of physics in Junior-high School. Towards this aim, the Center is enacting several professional development programs: (1) a program for high school leading teachers to promote a 7-12 grade view of physics learning and teaching. (2) A program for physics teachers to become mentors for 7-9 grade science teachers on physics topics that they teach. (3) Active involvement in the professional development programs for science and technology mentors in junior high school to enhance their physics knowledge and physics pedagogy in junior high school.

Rothschild-Weizmann Physics Program (B. Eylon, E. Bagno) : A group of 21 physics teachers are currently enrolled in the Rothschild Weizmann MSc program. Another group of teachers participate in the non-degree track, 6 last year and 6 this year. These teachers have participated in developing the PELE program (see above) and in the professional development of teachers participating in the program. The first group of teachers helped in designing, implementing and working with other teachers on the first version of the program. The Teachers this year extend the activities and develop new approaches to promote the PELE track (e.g., inquiry activities carried out in the context of historical case studies of physics experiments.)

Soft and Messy Matter (E. Yerushalmi, S. Safran from the Department of Materials and Interfaces): This project is carried out in collaboration with the Chemistry Group (S. Livne and A. Hofstein). The project involves research-based development of an interdisciplinary two-year program for a mixed group of students, chemistry and physics majors. The program is implemented in the Davidson Institute for Science Education in regional classes. Students participating in the program study basic concepts in statistical thermodynamics that allow them later on to study advanced, interdisciplinary topics such as colloid and interface science, complex fluids, and polymer science and cell mechanics. The project is accompanied by research on students' performance in, and perception of, the teaching of a current and interdisciplinary field of research. In addition, we study the learning and understanding of the fundamentals of statistical mechanics by high school students.

Web-based diagnostic modules (E. Yerushalmi, E. Bagno): Research-based development of web-administered activities in electromagnetism. The activities present students with common mistakes representing widespread alternative conceptions. The activities are intended to refine students' conceptual understanding through guiding them in analyzing the mistakes. The research focuses on the effect of resources provided along the activity on students' reconstruction of conceptual understanding.

Promoting reflective habits of mind in the Physics classroom (E. Yerushalmi)

Chemistry Group
Avi Hofstein, Head

Chemistry Curriculum Development, implementation, and research (R. Mamlok-Naaman, A. Hofstein): The Group is engaged in all facets of chemistry >curriculum development, implementation and evaluation. In recent years, few textbooks and other learning materials were developed, in order to address the goals of the new chemistry curriculum in Israel. In order to disseminate innovative ideas in chemistry education, the group emphasizes the professional development of chemistry teachers in general and professional development of leading teachers in particular. The group is involved in several research studies focusing on chemical literacy, student understanding of concepts, and learning in the laboratory (development, implementation and assessment of inquiry-based chemistry experiments).

The chemistry group developed a unit for 12th grade students titled "Environmental Chemistry", and continued the process of professional development for its implementation. This process was accompanied by intensive evaluation procedures (a PhD study). The practical work related to this module is conducted in collaboration with the NECHMAD project at the Davidson Center for Science Education.

Throughout the academic year the chemistry group initiated several programs for chemistry teachers with the goal in mind to enhance their content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge mainly in the National Center for Chemistry Teachers.

Multi-faceted learning of energy (Y. Shwartz): A longitudinal research study started during the 2009 academic year with the goal in mind to investigate students' understanding of the multi-disciplinary facets of energy, and the development of coherent view regarding key ideas.

Investigating students' Motivation to learn chemistry in high-school (Y. Shwartz): Science Studies in middle-school undergoes substantial changes these days. In addition, many students' are required to choose their major by the end of middles school and do not study physics-biology-chemistry during their first year in high-school. We investigate the effect of these changes on students' enrolment in chemistry in high-school, and compare differences between students who choose their major by the end of middle-school to those who study a basic chemistry course in high-school before they make their choice of a major. Last structured study of student's enrolment in chemistry took place in Israel at 1987 By Hofstein et.Al.

Development of students' argumentation and critical thinking, through a debate-like intervention plan (Y. Shwartz): This project is aimed at developing short interventions dealing with various conflicts that can be integrated into the formal syllabus.

Generating Knowledge Together (Y. Shwartz): Following the development of a community of practice of teachers using a wiki platform to generate knowledge together, as part of their participation in a chemistry leaders-teachers course. (The course is a part of the Chemistry Teachers National Center activity).

The international chemistry year (Y. Shwartz): Contributing to the organization and implementation of the International Chemistry year both in formal and informal science activities.

Questioning behavior of high school chemistry students (R. Blonder, A. Hofstein): The main goal of this research is to determine how the Inquiry Chemistry Laboratories program affects the questioning behavior of different populations. The research is conducted simultaneously at different sectors in Israel: Arabic, Hebrew (religious), and Hebrew (secular) in order to identify the scientific thinking characteristics in the classes and the students' questioning behavior.

The Chemistry Teachers National Center (R. Mamlok-Naaman, A. Hofstein) : The National Center for Chemistry Teachers is coordinated by the chemistry group. The main goals of this center are: (1) Enhancing the content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge of teachers, (2) developing leadership among chemistry teachers, and (3) establishing a core of chemistry teachers regarding the enhancement of new and more advanced chemistry topics (e.g. nanochemistry). The main activities focus on: (1) Conducting leadership workshops for chemistry teachers, (2) publishing a journal for chemistry teachers, organizing meetings and conferences, and (3) running an interactive website.

Link Center with the chemical industry in Israel (M. Kesner, A.Hofstein): The main goal of this Center is to provide instructional materials related to the applications of chemistry to industries. These materials include films and booklets that help in the planning and conducting of educational field trips to industrial sites in Israel. The Center operates a website containing a collection of pedagogical ideas and teaching materials relating the chemistry taught in school to industrial and everyday life applications in order to make chemistry more relevant to students.

In 2008-9 the center in collaboration with ICL industries initiated a project called "Chemistry, Industry and Environment in the Eyes of the Society and Individuals" This project include several competitions amongst high school students, including: research projects, posters, articles, short video films, and also quiz questions on the web. All these, aim at motivating students to learn chemistry and demonstrating the relevance of high school chemistry to daily life. Altogether about three hundreds students from 25 schools from all regions of the country participated this year in the project. The final event was a conference in the Davidson Center in which 110 students participated (the finalists).

Rothschild-Weizmann Chemistry program (R. Mamlok –Naaman, R. Blonder, Y. Shwartz and A. Hofstein): This year a group of 25 chemistry teachers are enrolled in the Rothschild Weizmann MSc program. In addition to the general description regarding the Rothschild-Weizmann program we choose to highlight two unique initiatives based on collaborative efforts between members of the faculty of chemistry and the department of Science Teaching. The first is a three stage model to enhance the chemistry teachers' advanced chemistry content knowledge and its related pedagogical content knowledge (e.g. organic chemistry, protein chemistry, medicinal chemistry). The second initiative is the active involvement of the teachers in the topic nano-chemistry and surface chemistry.

A group of 4 teachers are enrolled in the non-degree track. They prepare activities for the chemistry-year.

Life Sciences Group
Anat Yarden, Head

The group's major objective is to establish means to bridge between the dynamics of biological discoveries and the biology that is taught in junior- and senior-high schools in Israel. Towards this objective the group developed a concept, which was adopted nation wide, to learn biology using scientific research articles that were adapted to the knowledge level of high-school biology students. During this year we developed three models for the teaching and learning of the opening sections of an APL article and examined their use by three biology teachers. The analysis of the teaching approach of the opening sections of an APL in the classroom illustrates the challenges presented by the use of scientific articles for learning and instruction and the strategies that might be useful in overcoming them. By comparing those models for the APL article, we aim at facilitating the use of different genres of scientific articles in class, and promoting the design of additional teaching/learning models.

Another approach we took towards our major objective involves the use of bioinformatics tools, which are extensively employed by molecular biologists, for teaching and learning genetics within the high school biology majors program in Israel. During the last year we developed a new learning environment that makes use of bioinformatics tools for high-school biotechnology majors. The learning environment invites the students to solve several authentic biotechnological problems while using 8 different bioinformatics tools (Entrez, BLAST-N, BLAST-P, ClustalW, ORF Finder, Primer3Plus, Prosite and Jmol) and the various genome databases, all freely available on the world-wide-web. The Bioinformatics tools are introduced to the learners in a virtual Bioinformatics Tool-Box that includes detailed tutorials as to how to use the tools while using the various genome databases, thus enabling to acquire the required procedural knowledge for solving the biotechnological problems. The environment also includes the declarative knowledge that is required for solving the problems, namely the relevant subject matter knowledge in biology, biotechnology and bioinformatics. The students are invited to combine the procedural knowledge, acquired through the use of the Bioinformatics Tool-Box, with their prior knowledge and the subject-matter knowledge that is available within the environment, in order to solve 6 biotechnological problems.

In addition, we recently developed and implemented laboratory experiments in molecular biology which enable the introduction of contemporary biology to high school students and teachers. Those laboratory experiments are carried out in a unique setting in which the high school biology teachers themselves teach their own students at the Davidson Institute laboratories, following appropriate professional training. This setting, which we termed Teacher-Led Outreach Laboratories (TLOL), enables both teachers and students to carry out modern molecular biology experiments, which cannot be implemented within the senior high-school laboratories (in collaboration with the Davidson Institute). During the last year we developed a new environment that allows high-school biotechnology majors to perform inquiry projects, entitled Biotech, that are part of their matriculation evaluation. We collaborated with scientists from the institute, as well as from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in establishing a co-teaching framework together with the Biotechnology teachers to support students' inquiry learning (in collaboration with the Davidson Institute).

In order to understand the declining interest young people have in pursuing scientific careers, we attempt to probe students' scientific interests in general, and their biological interests in particular. Towards this end, we developed a novel methodology to identify students' interests - using children's self-generated questions as an indication of their scientific interests. During last year we used the data collected from 5,000 self-generated science related K-12 students' questions, classified into seven science subjects, to quantitatively measure the gender gap in science interests and its change with age. Using this methodology we found that the difference between boys' and girls' science interests did not exist during early childhood, but increased over 20-fold by the end of high school. Furthermore, the gap widened in a stereotypical manner, with girls being increasingly interested in biology and boys more interested in physics and technology. This novel method could be applied for identifying and comparing the gender gap in science interests between different populations based on different data sources.

Finally, a group of 28 biology teachers are currently enrolled in the Rothschild-Weizmann MSc program. Another group of 4 biotechnology teachers (holding MSc or PhD degrees) currently participate in an initiative to implement the learning of bioinformatics as an elective topic within the program for high school biotechnology majors in 12th grade. During the last year a group of 4 biology teachers (holding MSc degrees) developed initiatives for the high school biology majors program (11th-12th grades). Those initiatives focused on three topics: incorporating bioethics issues into the core topics of the biology program, learning about the living cell via hands-on laboratory experiments, and learning ecology using adapted primary literature. The initiatives program is accompanied by extensive research on the development of teachers' pedagogical content knowledge in the course of the program.

Earth and Environmental Sciences Group
Nir Orion, Head

The Group is involved in curriculum development, implementation and evaluation involving students 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:

Computer Science Group
Mordechai Ben-Ari, Head

Computer science for middle school students (M. Ben-Ari, M. Armoni) : The main topic of our work this year is on teaching computer science (CS) to young students (middle schools). We are evaluating two programs: Computer Science Unplugged and Scratch, and we are considering developing learning materials for robotics.

Computer Science Unplugged is a set of activities for learning about CS. The activities do not require the use of a computer; rather, central concepts of CS are introduced using dramatizations, paper-and-pencil worksheets, and other simple learning aids. The activities are aimed at young students and are intended to show them that CS is much more than installing and running programs on a computer. While there is no question that the CS Unplugged activities are a lot of fun, our research is investigating whether participation in the activities will actually change view and attitudes towards CS.

Scratch is a programming environment that enables students to construct programs that generate and interact with animated figures. The programming is done visually so that students need not deal with the complex textual syntax of ordinary programming languages. Many students use Scratch to develop games and stories, but we are investigating whether it can be used to successfully teach concepts of computer science. We are developing learning materials for this purpose and carrying out research design to test the effectiveness of this approach. The research is being carried out in both Hebrew-language and Arabic-language schools (in East Jerusalem).

Teaching advanced topics (M. Ben-Ari) : We have developed software tools for learning concurrent and distributed computation. Our most recent work is focused on model checking, an advanced method for verifying the correctness of programs that we believe can be adapted for teaching high school and undergraduate students.

Debugging (M. Ben-Ari, M. Armoni) : Many beginning students of programming find it extremely difficult to develop adequate skill for "debugging" (find errors in a program). We have started a research program aimed at finding interventions that can improve learning of this important skill.

On Learning Live Sequence Charts (M. Armoni, D. Harel from the Mathematics and CS Faculty) : LSC (Live Sequence Charts) is a language designed for specifying the behavior of reactive systems. LCS is of unique nature, compared to other programming languages, since it is scenario-base, and it uses visual-diagrammatic syntax. We are studying issues concerning the learning processes of LCS, specifically how students internalize CS concepts when studying LCS, how does learning LCS affect their problem solving habits, and more.

Introduction to CS using the OO paradigm (M. Armoni, D. Ginat from Tel Aviv University) : Introduction to computer science involves the design and implementation of solutions to computational problems. This can be done in several paradigms, of which the most widely used for introductory CS courses is the object-oriented paradigm. We are examining how various educational approaches for using the object-oriented paradigm (object-first, object-second) affect students' learning processes and their outcomes.

Teaching Computational Science (M. Armoni) : Computational Science is a unit developed for advanced high school students, dealing with the design and use of computerized models to model scientific phenomena. The unit includes topics of science, mathematics, and computer science. From the perspective of computer science, we aim to understand the interaction between these three disciplines, and specifically how the combined learning affects the understanding of computer science concepts.

Science and Technology in Junior-High School Group
Bat-Sheva Eylon, Head

The National Teacher Center for Science and Technology in JHS. (Z. Scherz, B. Eylon): This Center serves an audience of ~5000 S&T teachers within Israel and supports the regional teacher frameworks. It is an interdisciplinary science teachers center that relates to the main science education disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, and earth sciences) as well as technology. The main goal of the National Center is to develop leading science teachers who will lead science and technology professional development programs in their regions, as well as participate in regional educational projects and initiatives. This is achieved through long-term courses and workshops (e.g. 'Physics for Biology teachers', 'use of technologies in education', 'assessment for learning', 'integration of high-order skills into science learning'). The National Center organizes annual conferences (~500 participants on average) and workshops, publishes an annual teacher's magazine, and supports an influential S&T teachers' website (MOTNET). In particular, the National Center leads and supports initiatives and reforms under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Education, and influences their dissemination throughout the country. In the 2009-2010 school years the National Teachers Center for S&T has been very influential in helping the Ministry of Education to implement a major reform aimed at improving students' science learning and their achievements. In the last two years we have been conducting five parallel long-term courses throughout the country for 170 S&T teacher leaders. We have already developed eight teaching/ learning/ assessment modules for 7th and 8th grade S&T teachers in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology as well as guidance materials for leading teachers. This involvement will continue in the year 2010-11 and will be extended to 9th grade and towards developing a program for outstanding students in S&T.

LSS - Learning Skills for Science Program (Z. Scherz, B. Eylon): This program supports students in developing several high-order learning skills, such as information retrieval, scientific reading, scientific writing, listening and observing, and knowledge representation and presentation. The instructional materials in English, which were published in collaboration with the Science Enhancement Program (SEP, UK), the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), and the Nuffield Curriculum Centre (UK) include a students' activity book, an extended guide for teachers, resources (relevant texts and articles for several main science topics), a trainers' manual, an updated website, and assessment tasks The program for grades 14-16 has been adopted and farther developed for the British educational system as part of their "Science for the Scientists" and "Science for the Citizens" curriculum.

Since 2007 a new advanced LSS program was developed implemented for the Post 16 (ages 16-18) level. This program aims at four scientific disciplines: Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Applied sciences and initiated a new wave of teacher development and dissemination. As of 2010, the LSS program has been formally integrated into the revised 21st Century Science Program in England. The LSS program has been disseminated through 9 Science Centers in the UK and was adopted also in Northern Ireland and Ireland. LSS teachers' workshops were also carried out by us in Brazil, Singapore, and Latvia and teachers in these countries worked on integrating the program into their science curriculum. Recently we have been requested to conduct teachers' workshops in the USA, Canada, and Germany. In 2009 we were awarded a grant by the Israeli Ministry of Education to translate the extended English version of LSS back into Hebrew in order to adapt it to the new science syllabus and to implement it into Israeli secondary schools, which will be accomplished in 2011.

Interdisciplinary Science Group
David Fortus, Head

The interdisciplinary science education group, which brings together faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and consultants with a range of scientific and pedagogical backgrounds, studies: A) the environmental factors that influence adolescents' motivation to engage in science learning in and outside of schools, B) novel ways of representing individual's science knowledge on a given topic and its development across time, facilitating the development of learning progressions, C) the development of scientific practices and core scientific ideas that are fundamental across all scientific disciplines, D) coordination of curriculum across the scientific disciplines, E) ways of using on-line readings on cutting edge science to enhance students' interest in science, and F) characterizing the nature, strengths, and weaknesses of science education in Israeli Waldorf schools. Most of the groups' research is focuses on middle school students, but there are also some projects involving elementary and high school students.

CMLeS – Continuing Motivation to Learn Science - Multiple studies have documented that student motivation and goal orientation towards mastering science learning declines as they grow older, especially during the transition from elementary to middle school. Possible reasons for this decline have been suggested, but they have not been tested nor compared to evaluate their relative influence. The CMLeS project investigates the relation between multiple environmental factors, students' perceptions of the factors, and the development of students' motivation and goal orientation as they progress from 5th to 8th grade. It focuses in particular on differences between traditional and democratic schools, teaching styles, peer and parent influence, and differences between in-school and after-school engagement in science learning.

ReKoTa – Representing Knowledge Trajectories – Using a knowledge-in-pieces perspective, we have developed a computer-based graphical method for representing the development of students' knowledge of concepts in chemical bonding. This representation facilitates quick diagnosis of weaknesses and strengths in students' understanding, identification of concepts that are not taught and assessed properly, and comparison of different pedagogical approaches.

IQWST - Investigating and Questioning the World through Science and Technology - is an NSF-funded project which is developing the next generation of inquiry-based science curricula for middle schools. The curriculum includes 12 units, 4 in each year, 3 in each of the following disciplines: physics, chemistry, life science, and earth science. The project brings together educators, scientists, psychologists, and literacy experts from the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and the Weizmann Institute of Science. 

Research Staff, Visitors and Students


Abraham Arcavi, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
       The Lester B. Pearson Professorial Chair
Bat Sheva Eylon, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, United States
       The Chief Justice Bora Laskin Professorial Chair of Science Teaching
Avi Hofstein, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel (on extension of service)

Professors Emeriti

Maxim Bruckheimer, Ph.D., Southampton University
Uri Ganiel, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Associate Professors

Mordechai Ben-Ari, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Ruhama Even, Ph.D., Michigan State University, East Lansing, United States
       The Rudy Bruner Professorial Chair of Science Teaching
Nir Orion, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Anat Yarden, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Senior Scientists

Michal Armoni, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
David Fortus, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, United States
Yael Shwartz, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Edit Yerushalmi, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Senior Staff Scientists

Esther Bagno, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Alex Friedlander, Ph.D., Michigan State University, East Lansing, United States
Rachel Mamlok-Naaman, Ph.D., Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Zahava Scherz, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Assistant Staff Scientist

Ron Blonder, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Senior Intern

Tami Levy Nahum, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Science Education Staff

Ilana Hopfeld, PhD., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Shelly Livne, PhD., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Naomi Robinson, MA., Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Adi Rosen, MA., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Yetty Varon, MA., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel


Rachel Cohen (left July 2010)
Osnat Eldar, Oranim College, Haifa, Israel
Nurit Hadas
Rina Hershkovitz
Naomi Taizi
Nurit Zehavi

Visiting Scientists

Robert Eisdorfer, Shady Grove Hospital, U.S.A.
Michael Ford, University of Pittsburgh, PA, U.S.A.
Barbara Jaworski, Loughborough University, UK

Postdoctoral Fellows

Yael Bamberger, Ph.D., Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Adi Ben-David, Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Yael Furman Shaharabani, Ph.D., Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Eilat Hasson, Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Yossy Machluf, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Orni Meerbaum Salant, Ph.D., Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Yamit Sharaabi Naor, Ph.D.,Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Molly Yunker, Ph.D., University of Michigan

Research Students

Giora Alexandron Rahela Alfasi
Neta Avraham Green Michal Ayalon
Tom Bielik Iyad Dkeidek
Osnat Eldar Orna Fallik
Zehorit Kapach Dvora Katchevich
Elena Korman - Raved Elon Langbeheim
Daphna Mandler Shai Olsher
Menashe Puterkovski Ronit Rozenszajn
Tali Shapiro Awwad Sharaf
Michal Stolarsky Ben-Nun Rivka Taub
Dana Vedder-Weiss Hagit Yarden
Malka Yayon


Mali Karni