Even before ISRAEL21c partnered with Behrman House to deliver lesson plans, Debbie Sasson – a history teacher at the Epstein School in Atlanta – realized that ISRAEL21c was the “go-to” website for news and information on 21st century Israel.
“Your site has a wealth of information and it is truly inspiring,” Sasson wrote to us, adding that “we might like to know” that she had just been named a first-place winner in the PBS LearningMedia and The Henry Ford Foundation Teacher Innovator Award competition.
Of course we wanted to know! We sent a “mazal tov” to Sasson right away.
“It is very nice to be recognized for my project, but I am most excited that Israel’s innovative character will also get some press,” she answered. “I discovered ISRAEL21c last year when I first developed the classroom project on Israeli innovations. Your site is a research source for my eighth-grade students. Students used the articles to help choose topics and gather information on various innovations.”
The nationwide contest recognized Pre-K-12th grade educators who best used digital media in new and unique ways to improve students’ learning across key subject areas.
Overall, 30 teachers won honors – but only the top 10 (Sasson included) will participate in a week-long “Innovation Immersion Experience” at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, from July 27 to August 2, 2013, and receive a free PBS TeacherLine professional development course.
From agriculture to technology, environment to culture, Epstein’s students explored the revolutionary contributions Israel has made to society. Sasson – who was recognized by the US Department Education as an Education Innovator — introduced her students to Israeli advances with drip irrigation and then “inspired students to examine other areas of innovation in Israel, emerging from its scarcity of resources.”
The students learned about Waze, instant messaging technology, ReWalk, Dream Doctors Project, PillCam, electric vehicles, desalination and argan oil, among others. They then showcased their projects in an “Israel Innovations Expo.”
“Whether it was the group examining OoVoo, a video chatting application, or the students who explored eyeSight gesture recognition technology, they were fascinated about how much innovation from Israel can impact their lives here,” Sasson wrote for the PBS award site.
“Perhaps most rewarding was to see how the students applied new knowledge in the presentation of the innovation. Rather than just report on an exciting piece of art, the students fashioned it themselves.”
Sasson summed up: “I appreciate this recognition and I am grateful that as a result, I will now have the opportunity to participate in a week-long Innovation Immersion Experience at The Henry Ford in Michigan this summer. I am also excited that through the students’ projects, Israel’s innovative character, which was at the core of the winning entry, will receive attention too.”