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Prof. Ada Yonath, latest Israeli Nobel laureate Photo: Reuters
Prof. Ada Yonath, latest Israeli Nobel laureate Photo: Reuters
 
 

New 'genius program' launched in Israel

15 teens with IQs of 155 or higher to be trained by top scientists in effort to groom new generation of leaders in scientific research

Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad
Published: 10.22.09, 15:15 / Israel Culture

Fifteen high school students are currently undergoing strict training in a program designed to groom Israel's first "team of geniuses".

 

The tenth and eleventh graders were chosen by the Education Ministry to participate in the program, in which a highly respected scientist personally trains each of them to become future leaders in many of the scientific fields.

 

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Each member of the team possesses an IQ of 155 or higher, and the ministry hopes they will go on to become Nobel Prize laureates.

 

Israeli schools of all grades are currently said to contain around 12,000 students described by the Education Ministry as "gifted", and around 10-15 in every graduating class are thought to possess an IQ higher than 155. The program is aimed at guaranteeing that their mental prowess be properly developed.

 

The program was designed by the president of the Weizmann Institute, Daniel Zajfman. In order to find the students suitable for it, teachers were asked to recommend pupils they thought performed extraordinarily in class.

 

The selected students are assigned a world-renowned scientist who commits to training them, and arrive for training at the institute in which he or she is employed for one day every two weeks.

 

The scientists involve the teens in their work and train them in their field. Three times a year, the team is brought together for a cooperative session.

 

Shlomit Rachmel, who heads the Education Ministry's Department for Gifted Children, says the trainers were chosen discriminatingly. "These are researchers located at the forefront of science and are good role models for the students," she said.

 

Ehud Duchovny of the Weizmann Institute is currently training an eleventh grader in Particle Physics, and helping him to achieve a degree in Mathematics.

 

"This is a very ambitious student with a high potential," Duchovny says. He plans to incorporate the teen in his work on the largest particle accelerator in the world, located near Geneva. Last year, it hosted an international experiment on the Big Bang.

 

"The student will actively take part in an experiment I am conducting," Duchovny says. "It even stands to reason that he will travel with me to Geneva to present the outcomes of the experiment. He is very excited."

 

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