If you have seen a group of schoolchildren strolling through the campus in the morning or afternoon, these are not guests. Children have been coming to the college for the past twenty years to take part in a unique program for gifted and talented children.
The program represents a long-time collaboration between Kinneret Academic College and the Jordan Valley Regional Council with the Ministry of Education’s Gifted & Talented Department. The department operates 57 gifted centers throughout the country, and our college – as an institution that represents and cultivates academic education and excellence – has chosen to provide a home for the gifted center, in our lecture halls, laboratories, and library. About 450 third- to ninth-grade pupils visit the campus on a regular basis once a week – each age group on its designated day and time.
On each visit, the children take three courses on various topics – from cinema, theater and plastic arts to digitized music, social sciences (including experiments) and biology, to physics, mathematics and chess. The pupils come from a wide catchment area – from the southern Golan Heights in the north, Shadmot Mechola in the south, and Afula and Nof Hagalil in the west. All of the participants were located through special tests (similar to IQ tests) conducted by the Ministry of Education, and were found suitable for the gifted program (top 3% of the population) or the talented program (top 3-8% of the population).
Every year, the gifted and talented center guides special projects. This year, we have chosen to tell you about three of them.
- Private rain filter
The middle school students were asked to relate to one of the global problems set this year by the UN – water, and specifically – the drinking water problem in West Bengal. Although rainfall is abundant, the water is polluted. The students were instructed to use available materials, and turn the rooftops in the villages into rain filters. They built a model (mostly with parts printed on a 3-D printer), and experimented to examine the effectiveness of their solution. The project was performed in cooperation with the Zemach Bereshit agricultural learning farm, under the guidance of Sveta Barless. The project was presented at the Gifted & Talented Innovation Conference and the Agricultural Farms Conference, and was highly praised.
The project represents routing of creative and innovative thinking to solve problems that affect the population’s welfare; solutions that assist in society’s welfare and contribute to the other.
- Adopting the Kinneret Trail
The Kinneret Trail, which encircles the Sea of Galilee, borders on the northern edge of the campus. The trail has been neglected for many years, and thorns and litter have almost obscured the path. This year, the fifth-grade students, with their teacher Osnat Amitai, adopted the section close to center’s fence, to make a change. With the Kinneret Drainage Authority, the trail was cleared of garbage and vegetation. Don’t worry! We didn’t throw the plants away. We prepared a meal with them, and the rest went into the composter. We also built a bird observation hideout, a picnic area, benches, and planters. In addition, the students organized QR codes that allow hikers to learn about the various birds they can see along the trail.
The project deepens the students’ relationship with the environment, creates a connection with nature, and gives students the possibility to make a difference in their close environment – all this in biology lessons.
- Out-of-class, interdisciplinary learning at Kokhav HaYarden National Park
For fourth-grade pupils, this is their first year at the center. We chose this age group to enjoy an out-of-class learning experience. The children exchanged the classroom, desks and chairs for the open spaces of Kokhav HaYarden National Park. They learn the history of the site – film everyday scenes, nature preservation values – discover tracks and preserve endangered plants, and the mechanics of ancient war weapons.
The project was conducted in collaboration with the Israel Nature & Parks Authority.