When Dr. Netta Bruchiel Spanier finished her doctorate in electrochemistry, she found herself at a crossroads, with left leading to advanced research and right to teaching at the collegiate level. Yet neither fully attracted her.
"The Teacher-Scholar program found me at the right junction in my life, and gave me the direction I was seeking. Though I love research, I never planned on conducting full-time post-doctoral research. Though I wanted to teach, I was nervous about teaching in a high-school. This program allowed me to keep one foot in academia while giving me the skills and confidence to educate teenagers."
Netta has been teaching physics for the matriculation exam at the Beit Chinuch High School in Jerusalem for four years. Aiming to turn her pupils into people who think creatively, rather than study solely in order to pass exams, Netta exposes them to the theories as well as the processes behind scientific developments. In this way, they can test new ideas and work out their own solutions. One way in which she brings science to life for her students is by discussing problems that her research aims to solve and describing her findings. Stimulating their scientific curiosity in yet another way, Netta gave her class a challenge: to build a home-made model for measuring gravity, based on the concepts they’d learned in class.
"Because I love science so much, I provide my pupils with knowledge and inspire them to make their own basic discoveries. As a result, they ask me about science news they’ve heard and I give explanations based on my work in the lab."
The Beresheet lunar spacecraft was a fantastic opportunity for Netta to show the application of physics in real time. Throughout the months of planning and space time, her classes provided regular insights into Beresheet’s innovations and technology. “The students were totally engrossed. For its 2am launching, they woke up to film the event and chat with me about it on Whatsapp as it was unfolding.”
Netta is very happy with her Teacher-Scholar career.
"I wouldn't want it any other way now. One of my students told me, ’you made me think for myself and not take information at face value. Because of your teaching, I can now explore the how rather than just the what, and I realize that asking questions and working out solutions is what is important.’ That makes me extremely fulfilled."