If you have yet to bump into kids whose whole world centers on Facebook
or practical research of smoking habits, you may be surprised to hear about their friends who specialize in germ research or researching the proteins in the human brain.
Last year Or Sagi, 16, from Emek Hefer completed his matriculation exams in advanced English, math and computer science all with the final grade of 99 out of 100. He spent most of the year in the Weitzman Institute's labs within the framework of the Education Ministry's super-gifted children's program researching the magnetic germs in a computer as well as the spread of viruses in the intestines.
"My hobby is to build robots. Instead of playing games I just develop them," he says with a smile. His friend Ron Ashrov, 17, adds: "It always makes me laugh that we're called 'super- gifted', it's like being superman for geeks. Only instead of saving the world we love to study and carry out scientific research."
On Sunday morning 18 students completed the second class of the Education Ministry's unique high school project for "super gifted children." The "graduation" took place at Bar Ilan University where the students presented their research and received diplomas.
Geniuses in action: The super gifted graduates (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Shlomit Rahmel, head of the Department for Talented and Gifted Children at the Education Ministry explained that "super gifted" students are those with extraordinary scholastic skills that stand out even among the general gifted children group.
"These are students we call 'geniuses' where from a group of 120,000 children we usually manage to locate maybe 15 students who are suitable, who we believe that by locating them early, and offering them the right guidance, we can train to become Israel's next scientific elite."
Arij Hatib, 15, was discovered to be a "super gifted" student last year and has since become the darling of her hometown of Majdal Krum. Her research on the "effect of synthesis on protein in the area of the para-frontal cortex," is being done with the help of an academics advisor from Haifa University.
"People stop me on the street and ask how my research is progressing but I'm always embarrassed because it's so complicated even I don't know how to explain it to them," she notes. "There is no doubt that being a select team of geniuses means that there are expectations that we will succeed not just for ourselves but for society."
Education Ministry Director-General Dalit Shtauber noted that these students are Israel's intellectual elite. "In a State where the main resource is our human capital, nurturing excellence is ingrained.
"Our goal is to aim for the highest level of science and industry. I'm happy to say these children are not just gifted with extraordinary talents, they have determination and perseverance."