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Sigal Tifferet

Senior Lecturer, Ruppin Academic Center


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How can a talented teenager prepare himself for a scientific career? What do you scientists recommend? (Personal experiences, please).

My son is 16 years old and is very interested in science (Physics, Biology, Math). He would like to hear your recommendations on how to prepare for a scientific career. Is this a critical period to learn things that will be difficult to learn later? Are there non-academic experiences he should try? We are especially interested in personal experiences of all of you scientists out there.

Let me add that my son (Alon) is the one who nudged me a few times to post this question. He studies at a democratic school, meaning that he has full freedom to do whatever he pleases with his time at school. A big portion of his choices are science-related, but he does other things as well (basketball, juggling).


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    May 3 2011: Hello Sigal, say hi to your son. I guess you said it all, "talented teenager", because when it comes to sciences (maths, physics, biology...etc) you need motivation and love. You should love it. You should have it all as a technique. You should be talented, as you said. Usually scientific students are curious, they have a will to learn, and when there's a will, there's a way.
    Never let him fall in those silly acts that come from ignorant students not willing to learn, but to have fun. And those are "grades", everyone is aiming to have good grades, don't let him fall in such things. His teachers know him well enough, they know what he is and what he can be.
    Let love play the game. I know a lot of clever and intelligent students in sciences, but they prefer economics, history, arts... Let him choose, give him the right of choice, let him act.
    Studies are indeed interesting, but too bad schools remove and delete creativity. They have a mission to add and add and add rubbish into students' brains. They oblige them to learn. They want them to succeed and this is bad.
    Here's an example that keeps on scaring the students/kids/children: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I mean, come-on, why asking this when the child is only ten years old, or let me say 15 years old.
    Subjects change, some appear to be more "interesting" for students, some more "boring". Time will guide the student.
    Let your son choose, let him research about universities and colleges, give him the choice to answer, and then finally you can react and take control of the situation, give your opinion, let him know what you think, guide him, help him and suggest.
    I am following a French system, I am in a French school, and once the student arrives to the 10th grade, the school asks the student to continue his studies in Sciences OR Economics OR Literature (in grade 11 and 12).
    What I've noticed (being one of the students' council) is that the parents CHOOSE for their children, which is really bad!

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