Adapting Education in Science and Technology to the 21st Century
Adapting education in science and technology to the 21st century is a joint project by the Technion and the Abrams Hebrew Academy (AHA), a co-educational community Hebrew day school (for preschool through eighth grade). AHA is a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, USA. The shortage of science and technology teachers prompted the AHA administration together with the American Technion Society (ATS), to approach Professor Orit Hazzan, head of the Technion’s Department of Education in Science and Technology, asking for Technion to develop for them new learning materials in English to integrate into their science curriculum. Mr. Sam Ribnick, a visiting doctoral student and MIT graduate, and Associate Professor Miri Bark, an academic advisor at Technion’s Department of Education in Technology and Science, will be responsible for developing the teaching materials. In recent months, a unique and sophisticated curriculum is being carefully planned and woven, based on the new American scientific standards, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), including out-of-class activities and the new advanced teaching model “Flipped Classroom.” As part of their homework assignment, students will be asked to watch taped lessons on their own at home and then use class time to practice with their teacher, solving equations, working on projects and having discussions on presented materials.
The progressive teaching models at Technion consist of short video lectures that incorporate animations, simulations and colorful illustrations that explain and demonstrate scientific principles and concepts. Also included are closed questions and helpful hints for self-examination, and open-ended questions that encourage reflection and classroom discussions. Learning tasks encourage the understanding of scientific concepts represented in different forms such as: equations, graphs and tables. Assignments combine critical thinking and argumentative reasoning, as well as planning and implementation of research-based laboratory activities.
Recently, a delegation of AHA’s administrative body, headed by Rabbi Ira Budow, that also included 19 students from the school’s Grade 8 class, visited Technion’s Department of Education in Technology and Science in Haifa, and participated in a variety of learning activities developed especially for them on the topic of energy. All of the students thought favorably of the new teaching methods they experienced, both in the way the information was organized in the pre-recorded lectures and the graphics used. Over 70% of the students added that they consider it very important to understand scientific concepts from the vast fields of science. They also said that this project is especially unique, since the Technion, aside from only receiving support from American Jewish communities, also contributes from its knowledge and experience to the children of these communities in all that is connected with education in science and technology.