Several years ago, 15 small local authoritiesin the Eastern Galilee in the north of Israeldecided to map the pedagogical resources ofscience education in the region, and found a low number of students studying the sciences at advanced level. In order to confrontthis shortage, they decided to work together, to prioritize it as a joint goal and combine resources, to create regional science centers, and to engage the local teachers, all in an effort to attract more students and decrease dropout rates.In order to do so, and with funding from the local authorities, the Jewish Federation of Canada (via the Rashi Foundation) and the Ministry of Education, they approached the Tel-Hai Academic College, a higher education institution near Kiryat Shemonah with 4,500 students, which offers degrees in life sciences, social sciences, computer science and the humanities. One component of this wide regional effort involves working with two groups of teachers, one in physics and the second in chemistry and biology. Tel Hai, in collaboration with Migal, a local research institute, and some of the neighboring factories, designed a unique professional development program for these groups of teachers. The program brings together scientific research and industrial practices and provides the teachers with advanced scientific knowledge, research methodologies, and a curriculum which enables them to involve their students in scientific research.
The choice of this methodology is based on their belief that teaching and learning through scientific research encourages collaborative learning, asking questions and drawing conclusions; and develops creative thinking, independent learning and curiosity. By using this methodology the program also aims to support the teachers in improving their pedagogical skills, with particular emphasis on integrating critical thinking into the teaching and learning in their classrooms. In the eight schools from which teachers have participated in the program in the three years since it was established, there has been a significant rise in the number of 10th grade students studying advanced level physics, climbing from 37 to 113 students.
Tel-Hai College will now expand the existing project to include an additional group of mathematics teachers, who will meet over a period of two years. Together with volunteering scientists and engineers they will work on an overarching research theme and then engage their students in specific mathematic research questions on that theme.
The program aims to achieve a continuous increase in the number of students choosing advanced mathematics and science in their high school matriculation, a decrease in dropout rates, and significant addition to the number of students who conduct scientific research as part of their matriculation.
* The text above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors / Grant 64