Despite steadily dropping grades on world math tests and complaints of a declining education system in the country, Israeli high school students made an impressive showing at the world physics competition known as The First Step to a Nobel Prize in Physics, taking home gold and silver medals.
High school students from 75 countries competed in the competition. Israeli twelfth-grader from Beersheba, Eli Goudinevsky, was notified Thursday that he won the gold medal. Four other students from other countries took home gold medals along with him.
Israeli students Evelyn Jenis from Beersheba and Daniel Achdut from Netanya won silver medals in the competition. Dorin Yerhi from Arad won a silver medal.
As part of his prize, Goudinevsky will attend a four-week enrichment program at the Institute of Physics at the Polish Academy of Sciences where he will participate alongside research fellows in studies being conducted there.
"I am very happy, but still have not processed that I won a gold medal," said Goudinevsky on Thursday. "My family, teachers, and friends are supportive, and I am proud to be part of group that brings respect to Israel in international competitions."
The winning research was conducted by Goudinevsky in the laboratory of Prof. Nathan Kleeorin at Ben-Gurion University.
"My physics teacher at school and the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at Ben-Gurion University gave me the tools and helped me realize by potential," Goudinevsky said.
The Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center plays a large role in the success of students from the south in this competition. For instance, Hadas Tzaban from Netivot won the gold medal last year.
This year's contestants were mentored by Prof. Victor Malamud, a physics teacher at Amit High School in Beersheba and the head of the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center.
"This is a big achievement," said Prof. Malamud on Thursday. "These young scientists are the future of the country."
Dr. Amnon Eldar said that the Israeli winners would be awarded prizes in recognition of their outstanding achievements. "These students are a symbol of excellence," he said.
Though Goudinevsky still does not know what he wants to do when he grows up, in the meantime, he plans on getting his degree via the military deferment program so that he can remain at the university to study physics.