(Courtesy of AMIT) Four years ago, the AMIT network set a goal for itself—to increase the number of girls studying physics at the highest bagrut (matriculation exam) level, which is five units.
AMIT used “headhunters” to review potential students’ academic aptitude and also embarked on a campaign to encourage parents to urge their daughters to pursue physics. They also appointed physics mentors to assist the girls in their studies.
The effort paid off: Between 2016 and 2018, there was a 53 percent increase in the number of girls studying physics at a five-unit level. At the start of the process, 76 girls took a physics bagrut exam, while this year 198 girls will take the test.
Physicist Rachela Turgeman, who heads the physics teachers’ “community” at AMIT, serves as a mentor for the girls as well, and even meets with students who are on the fence about the rigorous course of study to help guide them. She introduces the young women to researchers and scientists to expose them to the field. In addition, girls who wanted to sign up but felt they needed extra help received extra tutoring hours.
Turgeman recently was recognized as a teacher who makes physics accessible by using toys in the classroom and other interesting educational methods. The girls who signed up for the high-level physics studies also got to learn about physics at an amusement park, where the different rides served to teach various scientific principles.
This week, as part of their unique course of study, 40 students from AMIT Renanim and Ulpanat AMIT Givat Shmuel are taking part in the experience of a lifetime—traveling to Geneva to visit the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.
Na’ama, one of the Givat Shmuel students who is in 11th grade, said her physics studies are fascinating and require a lot of hard work. Still, she said, “I encourage all girls not to be afraid and to do what interests them.”
Her friend Ma’ayan said, “Our teachers guide us to dig deep, down to the smallest details, and yet to think big, to know that we are the next generation of scientists.”
There is no reason for the percentage of girls who excel at physics to be smaller than that of the boys, said Dr. Amnon Eldar, director general of AMIT. The AMIT Network was selected by the Ministry of Education as the leading education network across all measurements in Israel, including quality bagrut, pedagogical innovation, pluralism and bridging the gap, lowest dropout rate and integrity.