In October, Israel opened its first “science kindergarten”, a program whose aim is to expose children to the building blocks that they will need to succeed in the modern high-tech world at an early age.
The kindergarten is equipped with advanced computer equipment, ‘Lego’ sets that will help kids develop motor skills, robotics activities, and games that stimulate interest in astronomy. The activities in the kindergarten align themselves with a curriculum that is also suited to learning the basic skills needed for a science- and computer-based economy.
Israel’s Education Ministry, which is a co-sponsor of the program, hopes to instill within the children a love of research and learning by introducing them to the scientific method at an early age. Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), speaking at the opening of the kindergarten last Thursday, said, “Exposing kindergarten-age students to the sciences will open a window for them into endless activities and challenges.”
Bennett believes that the project will yield both long- and short-term results. “We will see the fruits of this venture in the coming years,” he continued. “And, without a doubt, it will have a very positive effect on the lives of these children, and will greatly benefit Israel.”
The kindergarten is located in Be’er Sheva, a town that Israel is “re-formatting” to become the high-tech and start-up center of a country which is already known for its flourishing high-tech industry. The kindergarten will contain three separate classes with and serve up to 100 children. The curriculum will provide at least 300 hours of instruction and training in science and technical subjects during the school year.
Also sponsoring the program are aerospace tech firm Lockheed-Martin, which opened a research and development center in Be’er Sheva last year, the Be’er Sheva municipality, and the Rashi Foundation. The Education Ministry hopes that this pilot project will prove successful, and likewise hopes to open more such kindergartens across the country.
Subjects taught will include the basics of hard sciences such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, and robotics. Specialized ‘Lego’ sets will be brought in to teach children how to build and use robots.
Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson said about the kindergarten, “Israel’s continued growth as an advanced high-tech nation requires the development of a younger generation that is well trained and educated in areas like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These are the skills companies like Lockheed-Martin need the most.”
Hewson continued to praise the project and the initiative of the Education Ministry. “We are proud to be participating in this project together with the Education Ministry, the city of Beersheba, and the Rashi Foundation,” she announced. “All of us have the same goal — to help develop science and tech education in Israel, from kindergarten through high school.”