Volume 8, Issue 7 / Sivan 5765 / July 2005
In a pristine college chemistry laboratory, Dr. Mobada Simaan, an instructor at the Western Galilee College in Acco, was lecturing a class recently about the properties of yeast.
Dr. Mobada Simaan lecturing a class about the properties of yeast.
After a one-hour lecture during which his students listened attentively and took careful notes, the students, all wearing white lab coats, set up the beakers, test tubes, Bunsen burners, and yeast specimens they needed for the day's experiment. They quietly got to work.
It was a typical college scene, but the students were not enrolled in any university. They were tenth graders, chosen by their Jewish and Arab schools on the basis of their talent to participate in a high-level 3-year science enrichment program for 10-12th graders called "In the Path of Science."
A brand-new program, "In the Path of Science" is administered jointly by the Jewish Agency, ORT, and the Ministry of Science. It provides exemplary science instruction for 320 high-achieving students in the peripheral areas of the country: Dimona, Yerucham, and Sderot in the South, and Acco, Maalot, Katzir Charish, and the Druze village of Beit Jan in the North. Classes take place once or twice each week on college campuses, with organizers in each community choosing the scientific area of focus. In Acco, Dr. Simaan is teaching biotechnology. In other areas, participants are studying environmental science, geology, or computer technology.
"I love science," said Anat Manesherov, a quietly focused teenager who also volunteers for Magen David Adom. "I want to be a heart surgeon, because heart disease is so common. The experiments in my school are not on this level."
"This will help me in the future with what I want to do," concurred Shammi Ammal, whose large earrings, each with the word "love" on it, swung next to her colorful headband while she set up her Bunsen burner. "I want to be a nurse. In this program, I get experience working with scientists, and I'm becoming closer with the other students."
In addition to attending their own special science courses, participants will be trained over the summer to teach science to younger children. Next year, they will each, in turn, provide after-school science enrichment to kindergarten children in their communities. Thus the participants learn leadership skills while "giving back" to the society that provides them with their extra coursework.
Dita Sapoznik, Coordinator for the Acco program, said that while all 36 "In the Path of Science" students who attend at Western Galilee College are intelligent, the Arab participants in particular "want to learn very badly, because they are a minority," she said. "They are putting in a lot of effort. They really want to succeed."
A case in point is Walid Hany. He explained while waiting to take a yeast specimen from Dr. Simaan that since his school has no lab facilities, he learns science only through lectures. Hany wants to become a pharmacist and says "I love the experiments. This is a nice program. I wish all the students in my school could join."