Benefits of a Gap Year

0619_SGPV_KIDDISH_GAP_YEARAs part of their activities with Masa Israel Journey’s BIG IDEA gap year program, 18-year-old coders experienced the same road to innovation as any other start-up entrepreneur, working with museum staffers during a month-long process to identify needs and then explore digital solutions. The participants—hailing from the U.S., Canada, U.K., South Africa, and Australia—were divided into teams and were mentored by leading professionals from the Negev region’s high-tech community.
The apps created by the BIG IDEA participants included WePrint 3D, which aims to make the maker-space more accessible to teens who visit the museum; Make It Forward, a platform for sharing DIY (do it yourself) projects which allow teens to make on their own replicas of the museum’s exhibits; and Maker Chat, a space for creators from Be’er Sheva to meet virtually and develop projects together.
BIG IDEA gap year—a partnership between BIG IDEA Educational Projects and Masa Israel Journey, with support from the Be’er Sheva municipality—brings high school graduates ages 18-20 to Israel for an immersive high-tech training lasting 5 months in Be’er Sheva and an optional 4-month extension of internship in Tel Aviv. This includes an app development boot camp and various activities in which the participants strive to make social impacts through technology.
One of the gap year’s major highlights is the app development month at the Carasso Science Park, which marks the culmination of the boot camp.
“By harnessing the uniquely Israeli spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, BIG IDEA is a powerful manifestation of Masa’s mission to connect our participants with unparalleled experiences and deeply connect them with Israel’s society and economy,” said Masa Israel Journey CEO Liran Avisar Ben-Horin.
“These emerging young leaders are literally living and working like locals in Israel. We’re proud to partner with BIG IDEA and the Carasso Science Park to take that work a step further through participants’ development of apps that provide real benefits to the Israeli people.”
“It’s no coincidence that we chose to start BIG IDEA in Be’er Sheva, the cyber technology capital of Israel,” said Dotan Tamir, CEO, and Founder of BIG IDEA. “After four months of living in Be’er Sheva to begin their gap year, the partnership with the museum is a way for participants to give back to that community and make a tangible impact.”
That’s precisely the inspiration that Jonathan Shitrit of Queens, N.Y., part of the WePrint 3D design team, took away from January’s experience at Carasso Science Park.
“It feels great to develop something that real people will use,” Shitrit said. “After going through the boot camp, it was very special to see that what we learned, in theory, could come in handy when we were designing actual apps.”
“Part of our innovation is a ‘print date,’ in which people can hang out and experience 3D printing together,” he explained. “We met with local teens to really gain an understanding of their needs. It was a fascinating process.”
Carasso Science Park Director Dr. Netzach Farbiash said of the app development month, “We believe we need to make science and technology accessible for everyone. When we collaborated with the BIG IDEA participants, it was amazing to see how both our goals and their dreams could simultaneously come true.” For more information visit www.bigideagapyear.co.il

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