Science Tourism

Madatech in Haifa and Bloomfield Museum in Jerusalem offer kids hands-on and high-tech fun.

Friday, December 21, 2012
Staff Writer

In a classroom of 
Madatech, the  Israel National Museum of Science, Technology & Space, in the center of Haifa, an elementary school class from a nearby Israeli Arab village was listening to a lecture about chemistry by a museum staff member one recent morning, while a senior citizen from the former Soviet Union was showing his grandson an exhibit about energy in another room.

At the Bloomfield Science Museum on a recent afternoon, on a hill across from the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a young haredi mother and son were whispering into an oversized metal parabolic dish, a demonstration of how sound carries, and a few yards away, a young Muslim mother, hijab upon her head, was helping her son tug on a series of ropes attached to small weights, a demonstration of a pulley system.

The pair of museums, whose high-tech, hands-on, kids-oriented offerings attract mixed religious and ethnic crowds, are becoming increasing draws for both natives and visitors from overseas, according to officials at both museums.

The emphasis on children’s interest of Madatech (madatech.org.il — mada is Hebrew for science), which is based in a three-story stone building that served as the first home of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, is evident in its slogan (“There’s Room for Curiosity”) and in the name of its exhibitions (“Toy Story,” “Smile, It’s Science,” “My Green Home”). Visitors are invited to touch and twist, press buttons and turn dials, all designed to illustrate scientific principles both ancient and contemporary.

The three-decades-old institution, under the auspices of the Technion, also offers science labs and lecturers who travel around the region to address elementary and high school classes, as well as mobile science labs.

The Bloomfield Science Museum is under the auspices of Hebrew University and The Jerusalem Foundation. Better known than Madatech because of its location in Israel’s capital, it offers a similar balance of traditional classroom learning, and tactile exhibitions that invite kids to experience science with their own hands.

Its three floors of exhibits also have a Zionist, historical bent. A current “Innovation” exhibition features Israeli inventions and technological innovations, some well-known like drip irrigation, some lesser-known outside of scientific circles, which have fostered Israel’s reputation as a high-tech leader “Innovation” will be update annually, with a changing emphasis on specific fields like the environment or health.

“Traces of Light,” a recently opened exhibition, features interactive displays that illustrate new “light writing” — with low-level lasers — technology. An exhibition that marks the centenary of Alan Turing the “father of computer science” opened recently.

Bloomfield also offers a series of special events geared to Jewish holidays, vacation periods and International Water Day (March 22), and it hosts annual scientific conferences.

At both museums, exhibition panels come in Hebrew, English and Arabic.

Madatech is located on 25 Shmaryahu Levin St., Haifa, (04) 861-4444, info@nmos.org.il. The Bloomfield Science is located on Museum Boulevard, Jerusalem, (02) 654 4888, mada@mada.org.il.

steve@jewishweek.org
 

The aviation center in the Madatech science museum.

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