“It was quite amazing,” Mador recalls. “Outside, buses were blowing up. At the same time, in the classroom, Arab and Jewish students studied together in completely ordinary ways and learned together. Science and technology is the environment for the future: If you give children the opportunity to be together, it’s a great opportunity for them to simply live together.”
Among the first twenty students at Technoda was Israel Defense Forces Capt. Yaron Vivante, a Givat Olga child whose parents immigrated to Israel from Libya.
“He was born into technology,” says Mador. “He was very successful in high school. When he joined the IDF, he was accepted to pilot training, and graduated as a navigator of F15s (a type of fighter jet). Everyone was extremely proud of Yaron.”
In August 1995, four birds crashed into the F15 in which Capt. Vivante was flying. The jet crashed, and both he and the pilot were killed. To honor his memory, Technoda has named its major competition for young inventors in his name.
Among the innovations being developed at Technoda, in cooperation with the IDF, is a medical simulator, similar in concept to the computerized aviation trainers used by student pilots. The medical simulator effectively creates a hospital for children – without the children.
Mador explains that before a hands-on program like Technoda, Israeli children “did not understand the need to integrate scientific phenomena and applications.”
“Now kids build models – for example, of a car – [and] learn to understand how it accelerates,” he says. “Here, everything is hands-on, not just theoretical. Much is about the discovery that once you learn the basics, you can then reach for the high level.”