Enriching Education

Weizmann Institute of Science to Train Israel's Team for the International Mathematical Olympiad

TAGS: Community, Education, Mathematics

REHOVOT, ISRAEL—January 3, 2011—Thirty Israeli high school students entered a new training program at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot—one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutes—for the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).  Held annually as part of the International Science Olympiads, the mathematics competition involves teams of high school students from more than 100 countries. Through the training program, Israel aims to improve its performance at the 2011 event, which is scheduled to take place in Holland in July.

Low rankings for Israel's team at the IMO in recent years prompted the Ministry of Education to seek a new recruitment and training strategy. Following a competitive application process, the Davidson Institute of Science Education—the Institute's educational arm—was selected to launch the initiative this year. Ranging from online tutoring lessons, to group sleep-away camps, the program will provide students with intensive mathematics training, as well as the unique opportunity to directly experience the Weizmann Institute. Dr. Yaakov Lavie of the Davidson Institute heads the program. Working with him is a staff of high-level professional trainers headed by Lev Radzivilovsky, who will receive additional advice and assistance from Weizmann Institute scientists.

Student participants in the program will continue to undergo competitive screening until Israel's team is selected in June. The candidate selection and preparation process began with a nationwide mathematics test issued by the Science and Technology Division of the Ministry of Education to 4,000 outstanding high school students—out of which 350 were chosen to compete in the Prof. Joseph Gillis National Math Olympiad at the Weizmann Institute. In the coming months, the remaining 30 finalists will participate in a rigorous, personalized training program that includes customized, online learning tutorials, individual guidance sessions, and two sleep-away training camps at the Weizmann Institute. In April, 15 of the 30 participants will be invited to continue the program. At a third camp in June, the final seven students will be chosen to represent the Israeli team for the international competition.

"At the Davidson Institute of Science Education, we don't take shortcuts," Dr. Lavie said. "We believe in hard work and perseverance, but also in giving the individual attention that will bring out the best effort in each member of the team. Thanks to the intensive, personalized training program, we expect to turn things around and raise Israel's standing in the international mathematics rankings."

"Success in the Mathematical Olympiad is not important to us just because we want to win competitions," said Dr. Ariel Heimann, Director of the Davidson Institute. "We hope it will bring the issue of math education to the forefront in Israel. Math is the foundation of all the sciences, and these are crucial for the country, socially, intellectually and economically."