The Odyssey Program is a unique program that provides its participants with an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the sciences, with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary attention, integration within an academic-research arena, and exposure to experiences within the hi-tech and biotechnology industries. The program was developed in order to reach and tap into scientific and technological talents, already identified in youths at a young age, and to nurture a unique science and technology-oriented group, capable of assuming leadership and social responsibility roles. Odyssey includes academic-level science studies, as well as practical experience in research laboratories. Throughout the course of the program, emphasis is placed on the development of 21st Century skills and capabilities - cognitive, individual and interpersonal. In addition, the students are awarded academic credits and take part in the Department for Talented and Gifted Students’ “Academia in High School” program, which swaps out the need for some high school matriculation exams for the advanced academic courses they take.
The Odyssey Program was inspired and initiated by former President Shimon Peres z”l, and is run by the Maimonides Fund’s Future Scientists Center, within the framework of partnerships with the Ministry of Education - the Department for Talented and Gifted Students, and the National Cyber Bureau, located within the Prime Minister’s offices. The Rashi Foundation is a third partner of the program.
The program runs out of six academic institutions:
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Bar-Ilan University, Tel-Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Technion, and Tel Hai Academic College.
The program is spread out over the course of four years - from the beginning of 9th grade, through the end of 12th grade. It includes a variety of study tracks: physics, quantum engineering, computer-cyber sciences, sciences and life sciences-biomedicine. The tracks vary according to each academic institution’s courses and syllabi.
The Program’s Vision
The Odyssey Program was established in order to locate, nurture and advance the State of Israel’s human capital. The human capital is the State’s most natural and important resource - from which breakthrough scientists and inventors emerge. The Odyssey Program will enable Israel’s top students to realize their potential and become the next generation of leading researchers and developers in academia and within industries.
The Program’s Goals
To lead and shape the image of excellent students who will, in the future, become a community of learners and researchers, the “serving elite” in the fields of science and technology in the State of Israel, and the future leaders of Israel’s scientific and technological research, development and education.
To locate talented youths who possess unmatched motivation and superior cognitive abilities, and to help them realize their potential and fulfill their science and technology education needs, in order to increase the number of youths who decide to make a career out of scientific research.
To foster excellence within excellent youths, to create a desire within them to work in science and technology, and to help them pave a way towards science and technology leadership within the State of Israel.
To encourage high achievements by setting a personal example and setting high standards on academic and personal-social levels. To encourage them to engage in hard work and take part in challenging studies, nurture critical thinking whilst getting to know the Israeli society and unique, relevant issues, as well as instilling within them a sense of commitment to society as a whole.
To serve as an intellectual, investigative and social framework - one of value to those youths taking part in the program.
Registration for the Odyssey Program is intended for talented and gifted students in the 8th grade, who possess high levels of learning capabilities and choose to focus on science and technology studies in addition to their high school curriculum. The program will accept students who demonstrate (during the admissions process) excellent intellectual, independent learning, creative thinking, motivational and perseverance capabilities, in addition to curiosity and a desire to acquire knowledge and engage in scientific research. Participants will be required to actively participate and keep up with the program, in addition to their high school studies, including attending workshops and overnight camps during school vacations.