US defense and aerospace company Lockheed Martin has opened a kindergarten in Jerusalem which aims to "inspire young Israeli students to take an active interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," according to a Lockheed Martin press release.
The "MadaKids" Science Kindergarten is part of the MadaKids program which started in 2015. Lockheed Martin has supported the project since its inception and is now supporting an after-school STEM enrichment program in addition.
The kindergarten, located in the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood of Jerusalem, was inaugurated in coordination with the Jerusalem Affairs Minister, the Mayor of Jerusalem and the Rashi Foundation.
"MadaKids kindergartens are a symbol of the lasting dedication Lockheed Martin has to the Israeli people," said Marilyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Chairman, president and CEO.
"Today’s celebration marks a new milestone and expansion in our partnership. We look forward to continuing to work with the government of Israel and the Rashi Foundation to create opportunities for Israel’s children," Hewson added.
Students are taught by specially trained kindergarten teachers with a curriculum containing over 300 study hours every year.
Students who learn in MadaKids Kindergartens continue their STEM education in a robotics program from first grade to third grade sponsored by Lockheed Martin.
The program has now been expanded to include assistance for MadaKids graduates from fourth to sixth grade as well, providing STEM education and mentoring support for students from kindergarten until the end of elementary school.
"We are delighted to have this project in Jerusalem with one of the world's leading technology companies, after the great success of the project in Be’er Sheva and Kiryat Malachi," said Ze'ev Elkin, Jerusalem Affairs Minister. "Establishing this kindergarten in Kiryat Menachem will strengthen the neighborhood and make it attractive to young families. We will continue to lead additional projects that will make Jerusalem the leading technology center of Israel."
"Advancing STEM education is the future growth force of Israel’s economy in general and of the city of Jerusalem in particular,” said Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion. “The new MadaKids kindergartens will nurture the young children and inspire them to become the engineers and entrepreneurs of the future. Jerusalem is most suitable for STEM kindergartens due to the city’s scientific and technological education approach.”
"Opening the science kindergarten in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Menachem is part of a broad campaign led by Rashi to drive social mobility in Israel," said CEO of the Rashi Foundation Michal Cohen. "It is the result of our partnership with the Tami Foundation, founded by Daniella and Daniel Steinmetz."
"Inequality gaps start at birth and grow larger over the years, and therefore it is essential to begin closing them in early childhood,” Cohen added. “Introducing children to science and technology fields in preschool, and continuing to do so as they grow older, is highly important for the economic as well as social growth of individuals and the country as a whole."
The first MadaKids Kindergarten was opened in Beersheba in October 2015.
Josh Dell contributed to this report.