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Education for Science and Maths through the STEM framework – International Seminar Israel

The International seminar on “Education for Science and Maths through the STEM framework” organized by MASHAV an Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation at Aharon Ofri International Training Centre Jerusalem, Israel from January 14th to 2nd February, 2018. The seminar had 23 persons in attendance comprising of educators from Ministry of Education departments, School Principals, School Educational Staff/Supervisors, Lecturers at Teacher Training Institutions, researchers in Science Educational fields drawn from ten countries (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, India, South Sudan, Vietnam, Nepal ,Thailand and Ukraine). WAAW foundation  was ably represented our STEM Trainer, Miss Ikpesu Lucy to learn and experience Israeli’s educational system and how Israel uses the STEM approach which integrates four separate academic disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – into one cohesive and holistic educational framework, is based on an understanding of the  interdisciplinary aspects of life and real-world application.

Israel is known for many things; it is primarily known for its culture, history and the various religions gathered in such a small country. Israel is also known to be the most important “Start-up Nation”, and its impressive and innovative solutions for agriculture; but it is education where we believe, they gather the most innovative methodologies and approach which motivates and inspires students to learn according to the holistic approach and deepen their knowledge as wee as contributes to the development of life-skills, which is essential to cultivate in ever-changing world.

Throughout the 3 weeks of the course of learning Israeli’s STEM interdisciplinary approach to education, participants had the opportunity to discover many methodologies used by some of the most important science high school and the ministry of education in the country (such as Bloomfield Science Museum, Eshkol Science Center, science and tech start-ups company etc). The program was not just to learn about STEM Education but also to study Israeli’s approach to science and technology in their Educational system and how to innovative/implement these skills our context. The training programs and lectures were exciting and accompanied by hands on activities and project based learning facilitated by high-level experts and professionals in the STEM field and from different higher-education institutions. Each day was new with new knowledge as well as new experiences through conferences, debates, professional visit, etc. The training programs includes;

  1. Israeli science and technology (STEM) educational system.
  2. STEM curriculum development.
  3. Experimental and project based learning.
  4. Computational thinking (computer programming)
  5. 3D printing in education.
  6. Applying the STEM approach
  7. An interdisciplinary approach to STEM
  8. Introducing STEM from primary level inquiry-based learning
  9. The mathematics revolution and the pedagogy behind maths.
  10. Effective presentation.
  11. Professional visit to schools, Science Museum, Educational Institution, Science Greenhouse and Holocaust memorials and museum.

This learning approach of integrating STEM in the classroom is worth emulating as students are exposed to opportunities to be innovators and integrate knowledge through the Project Based Learning (PBL). The school provides choices of different subjects/learning department (ICT, Architecture, technology etc.) and students select and research on projects that are based on real life problems. They also provide access to education and support all kind of students especially those struggling in learning maths and science learning.

Another amazing approach was the creative learning spaces in school for teachers and  students to explore projects on the curricula. Every science subjects are theoretical and experimental based in and outside the classroom. Students explore these experimental classes in the agricultural farm, computer laboratories, science laboratories and any educational working space. The science museum also provides hands-on activities and project learning to students who occasionally visit. The museum is equipped with different equipment which is used to teach students when they come to visit. And most schools visit the museum as part of their science extra-curricular activities.

Applying the STEM approach in the classroom and integrating it to our various contexts is therefore very essential. This is a good learning system in STEM and it’s a way of encouraging hands-on activities in the classroom, enables students imagine projects, think out of the box, understands how to work with different tool and to learn new teaching approach. We have learnt that science for children is not just about trying to make students have deep understanding of scientific principles and rigid theories. Developing self-learning skills without formal instruction is a more desirable goal. It is more important to encourage students towards creation and creativity.

At the last week of the training program, the 23 participants worked on a project based on these three pillars: “Israel Based, Innovative and Contextual”. The project must be new and must be from what have been seen and leant from Israel during the training program. It must also be innovative that is something that totally a new approach. And finally not to be copied exactly as it is in Israel but should be implemented to our countries’ context.