Elementary school 521.
(photo credit: Sherihan Abdel-Rahman)
Last month, two Israeli high-school students were among the eight winners of a prestigious international physics competition, First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics. In addition to accounting for a quarter of the winners, Israelis won 12 honorable mentions, more than double the number won by any other country. And to top it off, 12 of Israel’s 14 budding physics stars came from disadvantaged southern towns like Kiryat Gat and Netivot, which normally place well down the educational rankings.I wish the above were the prelude to a groveling apology for having repeatedly maligned Israel’s public education system as “failing.” Unfortunately, the public education system had nothing to do with these stunning results; the credit belongs almost entirely to an extracurricular program run by Ben-Gurion University’s Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center – which is why southern students featured so prominently. The center, founded in 2007, has produced a steady stream of Israeli achievements at the competition in recent years.