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Preparing the Next Generation of Israel’s Water Experts

By: Mickey Chesla, Blog Manager

Israel’s advanced water technology industry sits on the shoulders of water experts developing solutions to the world’s growing water challenges.  Two programs, “Youth, Water & Knowledge” (YW&K) and the Israeli activity towards the Stockholm Water Prize, are helping to raise the next generation of Israeli water experts, from all sectors of Israeli society.  Both programs reached milestones on May 11th, with the awarding of the final project prizes.

Youth, Water & Knowledge is a program dedicated to engaging middle and high school graders in advanced learning of science and technology based in the water arena.  The program has been active for the past nine years.  In 2013-14, 700 middle graders from 18 schools participated, from all of Israel’s sectors: Arab, Druze, Bedouin, orthodox and secular Jews. The program is managed in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Israel NewTech, the program for the advancement of water and energy, of the Ministry of Economy, the Israeli Water Authority, the Technion and Israel’s water technology industry.

“This year the program really expanded its activity,” explained Dr. Amnon Shefi of Hi-Teach, who initiated the program and provides it with professional guidance. “I’m especially proud of the expanded activity in the Arab sector. We recruited dedicated staff to run the program in Arab schools and provided learning materials in Arabic.  Additionally, the program established a strong cooperation with the Rotary, as well as with the Stockholm water prize and the Globe International Program, promoted by the Ministry of Education, the USA Embassy in Israel, NASA and supported by Ben & Jerry’s.”

YW&K program also involves cooperation with Israel’s leading water companies – such as water utilities (Jerusalem’s Hagihon, Shfaram, Eilat’s Mey Netafim and others) as well as water technology companies like Bermad, Mekorot, Tahal, Dorot, TaKaDu and others. The companies host students at site visits and provide content to Hi-Teach authors with proper relevance to the education curricula. Company experts than come, meet and guide students in their research projects.

This year’s activity culminated in the awards ceremony which took place May 11th at the Ministry of Economy. The program’s broadening focus which now includes Israel’s Arab students proved itself in the awards ceremony, with the first place prize going to Al Mutanabi middle school from Kfar Manda, whose submission was titled “Leakage Prevention using Hydraulic Valves”. The work was done in collaboration with a similar research project submitted by the Netivot High School Jewish Orthodox Yeshiva 9th grade students in the high school category which was awarded the third place prize. The second prize went tto Kfar Silver 9th graders who investigated the impact of alkaline battery disposal on plant growth, as part of the overall guidance to investigate reclaimed sewage water use for irrigation. In the category of 10th graders, the top award went to students from Darka Ramon in Gedera on their work on water quality.

Another prestigious and fruitful program is the Israeli activity towards the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, in which YW&K takes an active part, in which 14-19 year olds prepare projects at the level of BA seminar papers. The 2014 Stockholm Junior Water Prize International Final will take place during World Water Week in Stockholm in the first week of September. We spoke with Lena Tannenbaum, coordinator of the Israeli competition, which culminated in the awards ceremony May 11th at Tel Aviv University.

“This year’s submissions were very impressive, and included 58 projects from 150 students from 36 different schools in four categories.  It was great to see the excitement of the students presenting their projects at the awards ceremony, to the Swedish Ambassador Mr. Carl Magnus Nesser and to a row of Israel’s leading researchers and experts in the water arena.”

Out of the 10 finalists at the Stockholm competition 3 were of projects run as part of the YW&K program. The winners were Shachar Rachmanpour and Rashbi Israeloff of the Moshe Sharet School in Netanya for their work “Seawater as a Mineral Source for Water Treatment: Analysis of the Possibility to Take Advantage of the Size of Ions as a Way to Produce Minerals”, under the supervision of Reuven Dinovitch.  The judges concluded that this project holds potential for addressing a global challenge that is especially pressing in the developing third world.  The team will travel to Sweden and represent Israel at the final competition in September.

Adi Yefet, head of the water sector at Israel NewTech, concluded: “May 11th was a very exciting day, with the awards ceremonies for these two very important programs taking place. We at Israel NewTech see as one of our main goals the growing of the next generation of Israel’s water experts.  We’re happy to be involved in these programs, which draw young minds – from all of Israel’s populations – into the fascinating and challenging world of water technology.”

Photos from the YW&K and Stockholm Awards Ceremonies:

    Education, Wastewater Reclamation, Water
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