In an exciting new initiative, Boys Town Jerusalem has become the first high school in Israel to pioneer a “Project Based Learning” (PBL) technology course which involves learning through problem-solving. The students take the lead, dictating the direction and scope of the learning process with nominal guidance by the instructor.
The brainchild of Shlomo Serok, who pioneered computer studies in Israel at Boys Town Jerusalem nearly 40 years ago, this 2 year extracurricular programme is open to Year 11 students computer and electronics majors. “Ministry of Education supervisors are closely following our activities, which will lead the way for introducing Project Based Learning into the national curriculum,” noted Serok. “The rewards are significant, these students will be in very high demand by the Israeli Army and the high-tech sector.“
Each two-student team conduct thorough reserach into a real-world need, surveying existing conditions and consulting with experts in the field. After analyzing the results, the teams have applied their technological knowledge to create actual solutions to the problems at hand. Students are currently working on data traffic system for banks, new solutions for water desalinization plants and more.
Aviel Berkowitz (age 17) a computer programming major, and Matanya Cohen (age 16) an electronics major, are designing a drone that flies medical supplies to the scene of an accident or disaster. “We learned from Magen David Adom first-aid personnel that lives could be saved if medical supplies were available before the ambulance arrives,” Aviel explained. “Most Israelis are trained in first-aid and can begin treating victims immediately if basic meds are at hand.” Using the school’s 3-D printer, the students designed a lightweight prototype drone to deliver the supplies directly to the patient without delay.
To ensure the drone arrives as quickly as possible, the students are consulting with experts from the (Israeli-developed) WAZE traffic system.
Shlomo Serok, who guides and coordinates all 20 students in after-school sessions each week, is always on-call via a WhatsApp group. “Keeping up with the students is a real challenge!” he declares.