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המכללה האקדמית בית ברל > English > About Us > News > Newsletter > Summer 2021 Newsletter > Going for the Gold in the Science Olympics

Going for the Gold in the Science Olympics

The first National Science Olympics for Israeli-Arab 9th graders, organized by Beit Berl College in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, drew an outstanding 8,000 participants from 136 Arab schools throughout the country.
​Not only did the event generate great excitement, it also encouraged young Arab women to excel. In fact, the first four Olympic medals went to girls: Yasmin Eyad Masri from Kfar Kara, Alaa Eyad Hag-Yehia from Tayibe, Aesha Abdel-Khaleq Ayob from Nahf, and Eman Yousef Hegazi from Tamra. Mais Yousef Mahamed from Moawia, who came in fifth, was the highest ranked boy.

Aiming to motivate Arab-Israeli middle school students to advance in this vital field, the program also incentivizes schools in the Arab sector to enrich their science curriculum and groom their best students to focus on the sciences. According to Beit Berl's Dr. Ibrahim Amer, who initiated the program, schools in the Arab sector often feel marginalized from nation-wide educational initiatives in Hebrew, and tend to lament the lack of transparency. This program was very different since the schools were closely involved and felt empowered by the process. "We received very positive feedback from everyone," summarizes Dr. Ibrahim Amer, who led the project in partnership with Mr. Shafia Al-Jamal, the Ministry of Education's Science Supervisor for the Arab Sector.

The three-stage science competition, held for the first time this year, started off with over 8,000 contestants, and the top ten winners were announced at the end of the festive final stage. The first part of the Science Olympics took place last October 27th: 9th graders from schools all over Israel were invited to take a test that covered what they learned in 7th and 8th grade Science classes. Each participating school chose as many students as it wanted for this stage. The questions were intended to evaluate thinking skills as much as knowledge. The top 10% from each school who scored at least 70 progressed to the next stage, which took place on February 23rd via Zoom due to Covid-19 restrictions. This time, the test was at a higher level and included six challenging open questions.

Out of the 1,260 students who took the second test, the 20 with the highest scores were invited to compete in the third, and final, stage on June 1st. The day-long final event was originally supposed to take place on the Beit Berl campus, but plans had to be changed due to pandemic-related precautions, so the 20 finalists were spread out among six venues throughout Israel. At 10:00 am, they took another test under the supervision of Beit Berl volunteers, and in the afternoon, the top ten winners were announced. Finally, each of the ten had to analyze a science experiment in front of a panel of professors, which resulted in their final ranking.

The top ten winners received prizes such as computers and tablets.  Their schools became winners, too, and were awarded equipment to upgrade their school science labs. In this way, the students were able to contribute to the future success of their schoolmates.

Dr. Amer stresses that numerous Beit Berl faculty and students volunteered their time throughout the year-long program. The National Science Olympics were made possible thanks to the generous support of Israeli corporations and donors: the Azrieli Foundation, SakLab Sakhnin, Hi-Tech Computers Galgulia, and Qassim Communications. 


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