Alpha is an innovative program for gifted students in high school (9th grade graduates) which facilitates their participation in the world of contemporary scientific research. The program was designed with the aim to provide for the specialized needs of gifted students, by enriching their scientific knowledge, exposing them to scientific research at a high level, and providing them with the skills required to formulate their own independent scientific research and implement it at a level consistent with academic standards.
The concept underlying the program is to offer gifted students a meaningful intellectual experience, combined with social activities (and appropriate emotional support), so as to allow them to develop concurrently in both these spheres. During the program, the students learn to cope with intriguing intellectual challenges, and are involved in participatory social activities with gifted peers from all over the country.
The students write a research paper as part of the program, which can substitute for a matriculation examination in one of the intensive-level science subjects (5 study units), or be counted independently as a 5-unit subject on the matriculation certificate.
The Alpha program is a joint initiative between the Future Scientists Center and the Ministry of Education’s Department for Gifted and Talented Students.
The Alpha program is intended for gifted students from all sectors, who would like to focus on science and technology studies in their secondary education. In addition to intellectual abilities, candidates for the program are required to demonstrate qualities such as a high level of motivation, independent learning ability, diligence, initiative, creativity, enthusiasm, persistence, the ability to delay their own gratification, and appropriate behavior in school.
Students are recruited during 9th grade to participate in the program that comprises 4 stages:
An initial summer camp at the end of 9th grade
A first research year during 10th grade
A second summer camp at the end of 10th grade
A second year of research during 11th
The Alpha program operates at 6 academic institutions:
Tel Aviv University – through Tel Aviv Youth University
Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Belmonte Science Laboratories Center
Technion – Science and Technology Youth Unite
Ben-Gurion University – through the Jusidman Center for Science Oriented Youth
The Weizmann Institute of Science's Davidson Institute of Science Education
Ariel University's Unit for Children and Youth (program for girls only)
The Program’s Goals
To advance the abilities of gifted students, assist them in realizing their individual potential, and nurture a new generation of trailblazing scientists.
To expose gifted students to the fundamentals of scientific research – provide them with close-up personal experience of the scientist’s work; provide access to new areas of knowledge, scientific thinking, and modern research methods; and impart the skills necessary for carrying out scientific research.
To develop personal qualities such as motivation, ethical values, interpersonal relations, team work, independence, self-confidence, responsibility, and self-management.
To create a community of program alumni – an elite group whose contribution to society will constitute a resource of national importance.