MIT students turn into teachers at Israeli schools

"I feel like I’ve learned so much through this because now I remember why science is cool in the first place."

MIT students teach class in Israel 370 (photo credit: Courtesy ORT Israel)
MIT students teach class in Israel 370
(photo credit: Courtesy ORT Israel)
It took a few weeks of teaching science in Israel for Bridget McCoy to remember why she chose to study the subject in the first place.
When she first applied to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the 19-year-old Chicagoan still wasn’t sure she wanted to study there, but after visiting the institution during an open house event for admitted students, she says she “fell in love.”
Today, McCoy, who is in her second year of aerospace engineering studies at the university, is looking to inspire others to love science as much as she does. This is what lead her to apply to join MIT’s Global Teaching Labs program during her winter break.
The Global Teaching Labs is a program which sends MIT students to a foreign country where they teach courses in science, technology, engineering and math to local high school students for three weeks.
Earlier this month, McCoy and seven other MIT students arrived in Israel as part of the program, organized locally by the ORT Israel education network, which operates more than 200 schools and higher education institutions across the country, particularly in peripheral regions.
The MIT students were divided into groups of two and placed in four different ORT Israel high schools: two in Ma’alot and two in Karmiel.
“We could choose between going to Italy, Germany, Mexico and Israel. Israel appealed to me because I had never been to this part of the world, and now I actually love it, I really liked the landscape and the people,” McCoy told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
During her stay in Israel, McCoy taught biology, chemistry, physics and even some English to kids only a few years younger than her.
“I got to teach a couple of aerospace classes, but in general, the teachers asked us to supplement their course with a presentation, or videos or something which is not in the books,” she explained. “I tried to show them more interesting applications of what they learn about in class. It’s about opening the door to the cool stuff in science.
“I feel like I’ve learned so much through this because I now remember why science is cool in the first place,” she added.
McCoy said she was pleasantly surprised to see the high school students express interest in scientific fields.
“It’s so encouraging to see their excitement,” she said.
“Some of them know what MIT is, some don't but a lot of them came to me and asked me what they should do to get into MIT or into a school like MIT,” she said.
“For our students, it’s a huge benefit,” Sara Merom, regional director of ORT Israel schools in the Galilee region, told the Post on Tuesday. “They are very excited about the program and they see the MIT kids as role models.”
Merom said that while the program benefits all pupils, she is especially happy about the effect it has on the girls.
“They see other girls who are very educated and it just shows them that they can get to a career in engineering without fear, they understand that this is something they can do,” she explained.
ORT Israel also brought the visiting MIT students on a few field trips.
“We try to give them a piece of us too, show them that it’s not a land of war and terror,” Merom said.
This is the second year the MIT Global Teaching Labs has sent students to Israel and ORT Israel hopes to continue the partnership.
“I look forward to next year and the kids certainly do,” Merom said. “It inspires them and shows them they can aspire to high things.”