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Maaleh Shaharut Regional High School

Developing Self-guiding Materials for Hikers on the Israel National Trail

Background

The Israel National Trail (INT) is a 950 km hiking path crossing the entire length of the country – from the Hula Valley in the north to the Gulf of Eilat in the south. The trail passes through an extensive array of landscapes, ecosystems, human settlements, and historical and religious sites. In recent years, the INT has gained prominence in the hiking community in Israel . Thousands of people of all ages use the trail each year, some crossing its entire length and others hiking only individual sections.

Most of the hikers travel independently, with no professional guide or teacher. They are interested in learning more about the surrounding environment, but proper study guides are not available. Most of the existing literature focuses on landscape descriptions rather than information about the surrounding regions or sites.

More than 30 high schools under the auspices of the Administration for Rural Education are located along the INT. These schools include study programs in the natural sciences (biology, earth science, environmental sciences) and social sciences (history, Israel studies).

In this project pupils will develop pamphlets for self-guiding hiking on the INT. The project will be led by Dr. Hanan Ginat of the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center (DSASC), aided by other experts in environmental science education from research centers throughout the country. Field schools, training centers and professional guides from the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) will also be partners in the project. The pamphlets will be collected in binders, which will be available for use by hikers. The material will also be available for use by school groups that hike sections of the trail. The project will be accompanied by a scientific study of independent guiding, which will be conducted by DSASC and the Department of Science of the Weizmann Institute.

Methods – A preliminary study on the topic “INT: Didactic and Geological Aspects” was conducted as a senior project by Nohar Shemi, a student at Ma’aleh Shacharut in 2008-09.

1.   Seminars will be held for teachers and principals involved in the project for the purpose of defining the goals and techniques.

2.   Each school will define the type of materials it will develop for its section of the trail.

3.   Students will prepare the pamphlets, in cooperation with local science center researchers and field school guides. The pamphlets will include concise written explanations as well as visual aids where appropriate.

4.   Participants will attend meetings, including lectures about the trail, developing guiding tools in the field (led by professionals in the topic), and joint hikes using pamphlets in various stages of development.

5.   A website will be created, in which all materials will be posted and by which day-to-day communication will be facilitated.

6.   The final product will be a collection of pamphlets, following a unified form. As part of the program the possibility of developing recorded material in addition to, or instead of written texts will be exposed.

Objectives:

1.   Presenting challenging educational programming in 30 schools, focusing on particular topics relating to surrounding area. (It is not enough to understand the subject – you must be able to prepare it so that others will understand it!).

2.   Encouraging cooperative work in 30 schools from the Administration for Rural Education and the Green Community Education program.

3.   Increasing professional cooperation among the various regional science centers, the Department of Science Teaching of the Weizmann Institute and SPNI.

4.   Developing national educational projects: The INT traverses the entire length of Israel . The proposed project will involve cooperation on a national level of schools from “Har-Vaguy” in the Hula Valley to “Ma’aleh Shacharut” in Southern Arava .

5.   Producing study guides: A collection of pamphlets guiding the entire length of the INT, for the use of the hikers in small and large groups of all ages.

 

Contact:
Dr. Hanan Ginat

052-8521407