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Closing The Gap

The outdoor science park at Technoda in Hadera. Photos: Alan Stein

With Israel's focus on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), it is important to assure that disadvantaged and immigrant children have the same academic advantages as others. To this end, Hadera's Technoda Center for Education in Science and Technology is deliberately set in the heart of the distressed neighborhood of Givat Olga.

Begun in a spare school classroom in 1986 to provide after-school science and technology education, the program quickly drew thousands of children from Hadera and the entire central region of Israel. Technoda has expanded to a large state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor campus that covers every field of science for children from kindergarten to high school.

The campus houses sophisticated laboratories, a stellar solar observatory system as well as an auditorium and library that serve as a regional center for educating gifted children and training science teachers. Hands-on exhibits capture the children's attention and the medical unit has a real ambulance and functioning medical "dummies" on which the children practice. Older students do actual dissections on animal organs. 

Inside the medical classroom at Technoda

Students choose their academic track from the sciences or technology, participating in the worlds of chemistry, biology, physics, medicine, electronics, robotics, astronomy, computers, mathematics and more. Technoda offers a comprehensive six-year program for gifted 4th through 9th graders who spend one day a week at Technoda instead of at their own schools and participate in interdisciplinary programs of science, social science and arts. These students are encouraged to explore independent experimentation and study.

Over 10,000 elementary and junior high school students attend practical science classes at Technoda with their teachers in order to supplement their theoretical curriculum. Schools from the region's cities, towns, kibbutzim and Arab villages participate. There is an expanded subsidized program for schools from at-risk neighborhoods of Hadera. Technoda's program is individually tailored for each school including for children with learning disabilities such as minor retardation, Down syndrome or other special needs. 

George Silver and Maurie Sachs, both from Massachusetts and friends of the Steins

Technogan has a specially trained and dedicated staff to guide over 1800 kindergarteners and their teachers through a series of activities designed to develop fundamental scientific skills and concepts such as measurement and weights, sound, colors and the like using activities based on familiar children's books which Technoda provides to the kindergartens. These workshops plant the seeds for interest in science and technology, which is especially important for children from disadvantaged homes where the awareness of such subjects may be minimal.

No child is turned away from Technoda's classes for economic reasons. Subsidies are provided for over 400 children whose parents are unable to afford the cost of the classes. A large portion of Technoda's budget comes from donations.

The only science center between Tel Aviv and Haifa, Technoda hosts over 100,000 visits annually of children and youth from every background, ethnic group, religion and lifestyle in Israel. Instruction is available in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

It's a great place to take the grandchildren or to visit even if you are not a child. It is open to the public for tours as well and the adult groups I have been with have enjoyed every minute of this unique learning center.

The website is www.technoda.org.il. Or phone them at 04 633 3505.

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Sunday, 03 July 2022

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