New Worlds: Stellar science education in Hadera [pg. 7]

Technoda provides enrichment and extra-curricular programs for over 10,000 children annually.

Technoda (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Anyone traveling along the Coastal Highway past Hadera must notice the new silver dome above Givat Olga. It's not Hadera's first mosque, but the shining result of a partnership initiated over two decades ago, when the Minneapolis Jewish community adopted Givat Olga through the Jewish Agency's Project Renewal. One of the most successful parts of the partnership was the introduction of extracurricular science classes for the immigrant and disadvantaged children of the neighborhood. The project quickly attracted children from outside the neighborhood as well, and in just a few years became the Technoda Center for Education in Science and Technology. In the two decades since its establishment, Technoda has grown into a regional center providing enrichment and extra-curricular programs for over 10,000 children annually. The growth has been so significant that a new campus is under construction. Sitting atop the main building of the new campus, the silver dome is the home of an observatory contributed by the Harry Kay Foundation of Minnesota with matching funds from the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. The original donation of $250,000 encouraged the Hadera Municipality and the Sacta-Rashi Foundation to provide funding for construction of the first stage of the campus which, in addition to the observatory, includes a planetarium, 12 state-of-the-art science, technology, computer and industry labs, an auditorium, the Technogan pre-school unit and a science library. Also to be added will be an indoor interactive museum and outdoor sci-tech park. The observatory will house one of the few computerized telescope available to the public in the Middle East. The dome opens on one side to give the six-centimeter-in-diameter telescope a view of the sky. The dome rotates 360 degrees to follow the movement of over 64,000 heavenly bodies. The telescope will be connected to a computer and special camera that will track stars, planets, moons and other heavenly objects and transfer the information to workstations in the astronomy lab. Pupils will be able to study stellar, lunar and solar phenomena and, with proper instruction and supervision, operate the telescope. In addition to a full astronomy program for kindergarten through high school, plans include Internet access ( to allow the public to view images from home, as well as university student operation for research purposes and special astronomy events for families. On completion, the new Technoda and the Harry Kay Stellar Observatory will be an attraction in the Givat Olga section of Hadera, drawing tens of thousands of children and their families from all over Israel and earning the city recognition as a leader in science and technology education. SPOONING IN AUSTRALIA Trying to find a clean - or even a dirty - teaspoon in your workplace is often harder than the work itself. Now researchers at the Burnet Institute in Australia have investigated the case of the disappearing teaspoons. This serious study of a wacky subject appeared in the lighthearted Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The researchers bought and discreetly numbered 70 stainless steel teaspoons (54 of standard quality and 16 of higher quality) and placed them in "tea rooms" around the institute. They were counted weekly over five months, after which the staff were told about the research project and asked to complete a brief anonymous questionnaire about their attitudes toward and knowledge of teaspoon theft. During the study, 56 (80%) of the spoons disappeared. The half life of a spoon was 81 days (that is, half had disappeared after that time). The half life in communal tea rooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms linked to particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the spoons' value, and the overall incidence of teaspoon loss was 360.62 per 100 teaspoon years. In other words, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a workable supply of 70, the authors declare. The questionnaire showed that most employees (73%) were dissatisfied with teaspoon availability in the institute, suggesting that spoons are an essential part of office life. The rapid rate of teaspoon loss shows that their availability is under constant assault. One possible explanation for the phenomenon is resistentialism (the theory that inanimate objects have a natural aversion to humans), they write. This is demonstrated by the fact that people seem to have little or no control over teaspoon migration. Given the widely applicable nature of these results, the Australian scientists suggest that the development of effective control measures for truant teaspoons should be a research priority.