January 21, 2018
On the Sunday 14th January 2018, twenty three of us, curious and excited educators, travelled from various countries and backgrounds to Ramat Rachael Hotel in Jerusalem Israel to attend a seminar on Mathematics and Science –a STEM Framework at the A.Ofri MASHAV International Educational Training Center. 

On Monday 15th January 2018, we started the seminars’ wonderful journey by being received by Mr. Damian Filut, the training coordinator and the only person we knew from email correspondents. On this day, we started by discussing various issues in education like access, quality and equity. Everyone was able to connect these issues to their country situation. Upon reflection, we learnt that it is worthwhile to be flexible and to try to understand each student; that a teacher needs constant updating of his/her skills; and that teachers have a unique opportunity to build and change society. We also discussed the access of children to education in different countries (for example, in Kenya not all children have access to school education, only children from higher caste have access to Education in India, children in Nepal mostly work) and tried to find out more about the situations for other participants in the seminar. We also tried to describe the components of the quality and equity in education (material equipment of educational institutions, ensuring the needs of each child, ICT awareness of all participants in the educational process, continuous improvement of the teacher's skills). Unlike other programs where we introduce ourselves first, we did the introduction in the evening and the idea of using a game for introduction was very interesting. 


The Introduction session
On Tuesday the 16th, we had two presentations. The first presentation was about general information and Education system in Israel. We learnt that in Israel, education is free and compulsory and the concept of dynamic, flexible, autonomous and personalized learning impressed us. We realized that Israel is always open to new ideas. The Israelites are called 'Start-Up nation'. They not only invest in Start-up but strive to improve them. They teach students to generate ideas The second presentation was about STEM Framework. The current STEM models in Israeli education across all levels of education were discussed. These presentations gave us a fair idea about the new approach in education system in Israel. 
On Wednesday the 17th, we visited a Junior high school in Rehovot. This is one of the leading educational networks of schools in Israel. We were impressed by the opportunities provided to students through the Project Based Learning (PBL). The students select and research on projects that are based on real life problems. The school provides choices of different subjects. They also provide access to education and support all kind of students. For instance, there are students who struggle in math and science learning. We could see the perfect combination of mathematics and science with technology as the classrooms were equipped with various machines like 3D printers.  In the network of ORT schools, students are given the opportunity to feel like an engineer, architect, inventor etc. We also learnt that while in other places, schools require physics, mathematics, languages etc for architecture, here, what is required are Artistics which may help students in the other subjects. We can take this experience to our countries to use technology not separately, but integrated with other subjects. 

On Thursday, the 18th, we visited the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. Do you know the story of a bike? We already know thanks to visiting the Science Museum which offers a good learning opportunity. Unlike other Museums with just collections of things, they provide hands-on activities to the visitors which make the visit interactive. We also created our own spin and designed a coffee table. We learned about the direction in which the museum works, how to get acquainted with TWIST and Hipatia projects, and how to get students involved in building media. It was amazing! In the afternoon, we had a wonderful session which taught us how to include Art in other subjects. We felt very lucky to learn how to establish a bird observatory in school. We learnt that bird observation is not just an observation but is a scientific process of research which involves skills like inquiry, observation, recording etc.  In the evening we were introduced to 3D printing in education. We were exposed to digital creation and digital fabrication using computers to create physical things. This was amazing. 

Museum entrance

A bicycle picture taken during the museum visit 

On Friday the 19th we had a session on computational thinking. We worked in teams playing hybrid games. We also created an application in Scratch to create sound effects. We also created an application in Scratch to create sound effects when you click certain keys. We created an application for the phone for the first time that changes the color of the screen when you move the phone.  In fact, programming changes the mindset. Programming teaches you to think logically and algorithmically, learn how to solve a problem, teach self-analysis, the ability to find a bug and correct it. We can teach students to program. But it's equally important to use programming to teach students.

We can conclude that each day was spent in learning new ideas and concepts. What made us happy was to see enthusiasm in every presenters and guests. They were willing to share what they know and answer our questions. It has just been a few days that we have been here and it feels like we know each other from a long time. We look forward to having more learning opportunities like this in the coming time. We hope to take back new ideas that can make difference and progress the educational situation of our country. 

Blogged by
Ernest K. Ngeny
Garang Manyok
Anshu Amatya
Daryna Vasylieva
Amol Parab