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STEM Education Takes Center Stage

From pandemics to climate change – today's problems do not fit into neat boxes. ​In order to develop educational tools to meet these challenges, Beit Berl College is launching Israel's first integrative Master's in STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education, as well as a pilot project to improve the assessment of STEM skills.

The two-year M.Ed. in STEM Education program trains educators to prepare the next generation to cope with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, and to improve the effectiveness of developing literacy in crossing traditional boundaries across the STEM fields. The new degree, which was recently approved by the Council of Higher Education, will equip teachers with the skills and knowledge not only to teach these crucial subjects but also to stimulate students' curiosity and capacity for inquiry.

While teachers are traditionally qualified to teach just one discipline, the new Master's program is designed to develop participants' knowledge of all the STEM fields separately and interactively. "Graduates will have the skills to see the larger picture and to address problems using a multidisciplinary approach. They will know how to teach in a more relevant manner by dealing with real-life problems and trying to solve them using Problem-Based Learning," says Dr. Noa Ragonis, who heads the new M.Ed. in STEM Education track.

The program will emphasize partnerships with academia and industry and its graduates will go on to encourage youth-led projects that integrate areas of science and technology in industry and academia. They will also be trained to develop activities for informal settings implementing innovative creative learning approaches, and conduct research in the areas of integrated STEM Education.

As part of their studies, students will develop and implement an interdisciplinary project or educational activity within the school system or in informal education frameworks, and they will analyze real-world projects as case studies. About half of the program study hours will be conducted according to a Problem-Based Learning structure, which enables active learning in context.  The students will study one full day a week in a hybrid format, alternating between in-person classes on campus and distance learning from home. Scholarships are available for all 1st year students.

The second initiative was recently  launched in partnership with the Samuel Neaman Institute, a multidisciplinary national policy research institute at the Technion. It is a pilot program for implementing and evaluating STEM skills in schools and academia, focusing on assessing STEM skills as part of the matriculation exams (bagrut) and the university acceptance process. Beit Berl is a natural partner for this endeavor due to its high level of expertise in researching and implementing innovative programs in academia and schools.

The goal of this initiative is the effective acquisition of 21st century skills in schools, as well as in the IDF, higher education and industry. The project will develop tools for evaluating the STEM skills of high school students and pre-Army and pre-university applicants, and will evaluate the expected benefits and obstacles of implementing proposed pedagogic plans throughout the educational system.

Five schools are taking part in the pilot, from different sectors of Israeli society: Jewish, Arab, religious and secular. The Beit Berl team, consisting of senior faculty members from a variety of STEM fields, is working with the schools to train the teachers and to accompany them in developing teaching-learning-assessment activities that incorporate STEM skills. In July, three intensive full-day workshops were held at Beit Berl for participants in the pilot project, including the school principals. Each of the three workshops focused on a different skill cluster: problem solving and critical thinking, independent learning and life-long learning, and team learning. 

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