Every year, about 300,000 visitors, of all ages, backgrounds and geographic locations, take part in its activities. It is the only museum where you see Orthodox Jews, Arabs, the elderly, school children, what have you, all walk around soaking in the experience. It is a true melting pot of Israeli society.
When speaking to many leaders of the Israeli hi-tech scene, those who have already made it as it were, most of them look back to their childhood and their first visit to the MadaTech on a school trip as what sparked their initial interest in science.
Established in 1983 as the National Museum of Science, Technology & Space, the MadaTech is Israel’s premier institution of informal science education. For hundreds of thousands of Israelis, it is their first encounter with the wonderful and enchanting world of science. Stretched over a 7.5 acre campus and housed in the historic Technion building that was built in 1912, the MadaTech offers over 600 interactive exhibits, illustrating the evolution of science and demonstrating principles underlying technological advancements that permeate every facet of modern life.
In the Green Energy exhibition children can learn about combustion, solar power and light power through an array of clever interactive displays. They can also race sailboats on a table with fans, to learn about the properties of wind power.
In the Einstein Hall where an exhibition that was made in honour of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first and only astronaut where visitors are introduced to some of his personal belongings found at the crash site of the Columbia space shuttle.
One of the museum’s biggest draws is the Boyo, a human yo-yo, where visitors can propel themselves 4 meters into the air and bounce right back.
Eli Shermeister, the MadaTech’s Director since 2013 tells us about the unique fabric that makes up the museum’s visitors, “Every year, about 300,000 visitors, of all ages, backgrounds and geographic locations, take part in its activities. It is the only museum where you see Orthodox Jews, Arabs, the elderly, school children, what have you, all walk around soaking in the experience. It is a true melting pot of Israeli society.”
The MadaTech is not only a museum; it also functions as a center for gifted science students from around the country. It provides them with state of the art facilities and a teaching staff comprised of mostly Technion staff that provide them with extra-curricular tutorship in the sciences – giving many of them a significant step-up when they apply for university. This initiative is carried out in tandem with the Ministry of Education and the municipality of Haifa.
The jewel-in-the-crown of the institute’s outreach is undoubtedly the OlympiYeda, literally translated as the Olympics of Knowledge, an Annual Science Competition whose winner and 3 runner-ups win a prestigious scholarship to the Technion.
According to Mayor Yona Yahav who is on the museum’s board of directors “The MadaTech embodies the city’s spirit of combining educational excellence with a strong communal mandate.” This manifests in, among other diverse ways, in the Mobile Science Laboratories that travels to schools and community centers countrywide, bringing science and a thirst for knowledge to underprivileged children.
The FabLab is the center’s latest marvel…Modeled after the MIT’s FabLab, it is currently the world’s biggest facility. It offers the public a technology laboratory with 3D printers, scanners, laser cutters, PC workstations, and staff eager to introduce all of the latest technology. Daniel Hershkovitz, one of the instructors at the Lab can barely contain his excitement as he leads us through the colorful lab and explains the different devices and endless options. “3D printing is like Lego for grownups, “ Hershkovitz enthuses. The Lab was funded by the Wanger Family who had also donated the funds for the Chicago FabLab, but wanted one “that was even a bigger and better one that could provide an invaluable educational and industrial resource.”
Currently the MadaTech is in the midst of reviving its vast North Garden into a modern, well-tended area at the entrance to the museum. The two-phase renovation, partially funded by the Keren Kayemet in Germany, is set to open to the public this summer. It will feature an enticing range of scientific themes and technological elements as well as palm trees that will provide shade and serenity. The park is being carefully reconstructed around the two palm trees that were planted by Albert Einstein on his only visit ever to Israel.
With the return of the Technion’s faculty of Architecture to the MadaTech, which it originally populated, the entire Hadar neighborhood is set to return to more glorious days when it functioned as the city’s center.