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>Israel Faxx
>JN Sept. 8, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 164

IDF Fighter Jet Crashes in South

An IDF F-16 fighter jet crashed Sunday in the Negev, in southern Israel. The crew managed to eject prior to impact but the pilot and co-pilot sustained moderate-to-serious injuries. It is believed a bird got caught into the plane's engine causing the crash.

Prime Minister Visits Victims

By IINS News Service

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Greg Salzman of East Brunswick, NJ, while visiting the victims of the Ben Yehuda blast at Jerusalem's Shaare Tzedek Medical Center,

Salzman was in stable condition having sustained second degree burns. He was thrown out of his seat at a Ben Yehuda cafe when the three bombs shattered a serene summer afternoon scene.

The prime minister gave Salzman his phone to call his parents in the U.S. He had not managed to get to a phone to call them prior to Netanyahu's visit.

"Stanley, hi," Netanyahu said into the phone. "How are you? Your son is all right. He's next to me. He's in good hands and we'll take care of him."

DNA Tests to be Used to Find Missing Immigrant Children

By IINS News Service

The Knesset Science and Technology Committee is attempting to find a scientific solution to a humanitarian problem that has plagued the country for several decades: the disappearance of the children of Yemenite and other immigrants. At issue are parents of missing children, and children who know that they were adopted, who cannot find each other.

The committee members heard from genetics experts that it is now possible to conduct extremely accurate low-cost DNA tests, which can determine whether two persons are of the same family. The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Science announced his office would pay for all of the necessary testing in this connection. Committee Chairwoman Dalia Itzik said the main problem is obtaining blood samples from the already-elderly parents.

"If in a few years, a man comes along and says that he was adopted and would like to find out who his parents were, it may be too late - unless we make sure to obtain blood samples as soon as possible."

Motivating for Math a Powerful Idea

By IINS News Service

Question: What do you get when you take 25 children, subtract their textbooks, and add dice, matchsticks and chocolate? Answer: an innovative model of math education that has kids discovering mathematical principles all on their own. And best of all, they think it's fun.

The program, developed by Dr. Alex Friedlander of the Weizmann Institute's Science Teaching Department in cooperation with Tel-Aviv's Center for Educational Technology, is featured on the cover of the September issue of the US National Council of Teachers of Mathematics journal Teaching Children Mathematics.

Friedlander's approach, designed for grades two through six, offers an alternative to the traditional teaching methods that turn so many children off math. Instead of technical classroom instruction, pupils are presented with structured investigative experiences that motivate them to re-invent mathematical principles. It also provides a way for more talented students to learn at their own pace, without breaking the class into groups according to ability.

The method addresses another problem common to elementary education: children learn at different rates, and more advanced students often get bored waiting for their classmates to catch up. Friedlander's curriculum units consist of a series of eight to 10 math-based investigations. Children work through some of these investigations in heterogeneous groups, allowing each child to contribute according to his or her mathematical ability. Advanced students benefit from the open-ended structure of the activities, which encourages creative problem-solving, not just getting the right answer.

An example of the method is a learning unit on dice. Working in groups, children discover the "magic rule of seven" -- the fact that opposite sides of a die always add up to seven. Once the concept is grasped, it continues to work magic, becoming a useful tool that the children can use to solve more and more complex problems, such as predicting the sum displayed on one side of a "tower" of multiple dice.

"The key to success," says Friedlander, "is letting kids figure things out on their own terms. One child might solve a problem by counting dots on the dice. Another immediately understands and uses abstract concepts. In any case, the kids employ a whole variety of mathematical thinking skills. More importantly, they discover a need for the knowledge of mathematical concepts."

A big challenge in Friedlander's approach may be the one faced by those elementary school teachers who are accustomed mainly to frontal classroom presentation of mathematical rules. "We suggest that teachers go through the experience of mathematical investigations themselves before presenting them to their students. This way, teachers will get a feeling for the process of learning mathematics rather than simply presenting structured pieces of knowledge."

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