“From Marie Curie to Ada Yonath – 100 Years of Women in Chemistry” – was the title of the annual meeting of the National Center for Chemistry Teachers. The meeting, organized by the Weizmann Institute’s Science Teaching Department, was held during the Hanukkah holiday at the Davidson Institute of Science Education, which leads, coordinates and operates the educational activities of the Weizmann Institute.
The conference focused on the contribution of women to industry, research and pedagogy in the field of chemistry. “More than 60% of students taking matriculation exams in chemistry are female,” announced Dr. Nitza Barnea, the Ministry of Education’s National Supervisor for Chemistry Teaching. “Their numbers have grown both in academia and in industry, where women are succeeding in breaking the glass ceiling and are reaching influential positions.” Prof. Ehud Keinan of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, President of the Israel Chemical Society and Chairman of the National Chemistry Teaching Committee, spoke of Israel’s impressive achievements in the field and the importance of the chemistry industry in Israel. Though attitudes toward chemistry tend to be negative, it is the key to solving such pressing issues as the energy crisis and global warming. Speeches were delivered by conference chair Dr. Rachel Mamlok-Na’aman of the Weizmann Institute, Head of the National Center for Chemistry Teachers; Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph, Vice President for Resource Development and Dean for Educational Activities; and Prof. Avi Hofstein, Head of the Chemistry Group of the Institute’s Science Teaching Department.
This was followed by the awarding of the Dr. Vera Mandler Outstanding Teacher Prize. The prize, awarded for the past six years, was this year given to Ziva Bar-Dov – a member of the National Center for Chemistry Teachers and the Chemistry Group of the Science Teaching Department. The prize will help Bar-Dov to contribute further to improving chemistry education in schools and her efforts to promote chemistry – especially among new immigrants.
Examples of chemistry teachers’ creative initiatives were featured at two lecture sessions of teachers and researchers, where they had the opportunity to present their new teaching programs, competitions, original projects and results of their education research.
The conference also included enriching lectures that touched upon the professional and the pedagogical. Dr. Daniella Gutman of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. discussed the challenges facing the development of generic drugs; Prof. Yehudit (Judy) Dori of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology described her research on the effectiveness of affirmative action among gifted students; and Dr. Avital Shurki of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem spoke about pesticides.
The conference concluded with a lecture presented by the Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Eilam Gross, which was dedicated to the female chemist who won two Nobel prizes – Marie Curie.