About the project
“Our Ribbon” is a unique project that is part of the Nachshon Program at the Gymnasia Realit, high school in the city of Rishon L’Zion, Israel. Its aim is to apply the guidelines of the Nachshon Program for developing and nurturing talented, quality youth, and for creating scientific, leadership ability in Israel.
About the Nachshon Program
The Nachshon Program derives its educational philosophy and approach from the prestigious, academic-military Talpiot program, applied within the framework of special Nachshon classes in high schools and middle schools throughout Israel. The program is based on concepts of active and independent learning and development of the students, under the guidance of their teacher/educator. The program leads to the acquiring of expertise and ability via the development of three parallel and balanced bases of power: intellectual – personal – moral values, which together create an entity that is much larger than the sum of its parts. The teacher who directs the program encourages the development and the nurturing of every student in the class on an individual level. The educational focus of the Nachshon program within the school system is on creating a future leadership in Israel, a leadership which may be characterized by: The potential for professional excellence in a wide variety of directions, based upon scientific thought, personal ability, and social understanding,
in order to create individuals who give to society and who are leaders both politically and socially.
It embraces a deep commitment to the existence and the further growth of the Israel, as a Jewish and as an advanced democratic state.
It is within the framework of this program, starting in 2019, with tenth graders, that the project “Our Ribbon” was conceived, with the purpose of generating greater knowledge and responsibility about a range of environmental issues, on a local (Rishon L’Zion), country-wide, and world level.
Some Central Points in the Development of the Project
At the beginning of the school year 2019-2020, the tenth graders in the Nachshon Program in the Gymnasia Realit high school in Rishon L’Zion, went out into the streets of the city to conduct a survey, in which the students asked the inhabitants what in their eyes were the most important public issues of the day. The information was collected on a Google form, which the students developed themselves. The form allowed every person interviewed to express their opinion freely at the same time that it enabled the students to conduct a statistical analysis. After the survey, the students collected the data and divided it into main categories, and then they took a vote to decide which topic they wanted to choose for their applied learning project. Their choice was protecting the environment. In the days that followed, the students engaged in a long process of “design thinking”, which combined brainstorming on how to take the project further and defining subcategories related to the topic, as well as how to bring the project from the drawing board to realization as something that would have long-term influence and meaning. The students were asked to “think big”, without worrying about either cost or location. From this series of meetings, the members of the group, together with their teacher, Nadav Shamgar, conceived the project “Our Ribbon”, which the students kept secret until the project was launched.
“Our Ribbon” Project
The project is predicated on the principle of increasing awareness of environmental issues. Within the framework of the project we designed fabric (an environmental decision) ribbons, which are intended to be hung on backpack. Each ribbon advances a different environmental topic. The ribbons are accompanied by an internet site that presents background information on each one of the environmental topics, and also suggestions/requests as to what actions to take in order to help the environment in the specific area of the ribbon that was chosen.
From the outset, the project was defined as non profit. The funds that will be received from the selling of the ribbons, at a symbolic cost of 5 NIS per ribbon, will be directed towards three important goals: 1) purchase of additional ribbons to enable the project to continue; 2) fixed donations of several thousand shekels, with each new batch of ribbons that are sold, to environmental organizations to be chosen by the student members of the group after learning as much as possible about each organization they decide to donate to; 3) future funding of further learning options for students in the educational system, for example, study tours, guest lecturers and experts in the field and more.
The name of the project, “Our Ribbon”, relates to the application of the project by means of a ribbon attached to a backpack that asks the bearer of the ribbon to commit to advancing an environmental issue. The name of the project also is a play on words in Hebrew slang (the word ribbon in Hebrew also means film or movie) – how we want the future to be, what kind of “movie” do we want to feature in. The slogan of the project – Our Ribbon, Our Future, Our Planet – captures all of these aspects. The project was born from an understanding that our environment and our planet are of primary importance to us, and therefore it is our responsibility to worry about their future. By means of Our Ribbon, we can advance awareness of environmental issues and encourage people to commit to work to improve different environmental problems. Our aim is to make the project applicable also for worldwide, therefore we chose a name in English, and decided not to link the project to a specific place, other than to indicate that the project is the original idea of a group of students in the Nachson program at the Gymnasia Realit in Rishon L’Zion.
In addition to the actual ribbons, another element that completes the project is the domain, OurRibbon.com, where an internet site has been set up in order to explain the essence of the project, and to provide additional information about each of the ribbons that was created within the framework of the project, and also to define the expectations from anyone who chooses to participate in the project by adding one or more ribbons to his or her backpack. At this point in the development of the project, contact was made with the graphic artist, Roni Balachsan, owner of the advertising company, Info Eilat, who volunteered to help the students design the logo and the ribbons, enabling the students to participate in the entire process of thinking through and designing the ribbons.
After a price comparison among various Israeli companies, there was no choice given the great gap in costs but to order samples of the ribbons from a factory in China. We managed to find a factory that works with machines (and is not a sweatshop) and uses fabric (which does not harm the environment) rather than plastic, and at a price that makes possible the selling of the finished ribbon at a symbolic price. During the course of our contact with the factory, we corresponded for over an entire year, ordered several samples in order to check out the quality and make changes, involving the students in the entire process of decision making at various levels.
The Project Within the Framework of Nachshon
The students in the Nachson group, who began the project in the tenth grade, applied the three foundational principles of the Nachshon program in the best possible manner - on the level of personal growth, development of values, and intellectual growth – as shown in the following examples.
In terms of personal development, the students learned through this project personal values, such as taking responsibility both as an individual and as part of the group for various aspects of the project, which included enterprise, social justice, and honesty.
In terms of development of values, the students acquired experience in aspects related to mutual responsibility, the democratic process of group decision making, giving of themselves to the society in general, and many more.
In terms of their intellectual growth, the students learned about a wide variety of subjects and developed new areas of expertise at all of the various stages of the project, including: learning in depth, either from professionals or via the internet, about each of the environmental topics that were chosen; learning to apply and use a range of Google tools; acquiring experience in conducting surveys and analyzing the data; learning basic principles of economics related to the production of the ribbons (cost, profit, etc.), and also acquiring basic skills in marketing and advertising, and more.
What Lies Ahead?
At the present stage, the project was just launched, selling the ribbons and publicizing the project. The first stage will be conducted on the level of the school, and only the students of the school will be part of the initial introduction of the process, enabling the Nachshon students to gain insights about production and publicity in relation to the specific population of their school. The second stage will involve opening up the project to other schools and residents in Rishon L’Zion (first and foremost high schools, with the approval of the Education Committee of the municipality). The next stage will move to a country-wide level and will enlist the national media to publicize the project. In the future, the aim is to move beyond the border of the country, and to expand awareness of environmental issues on an international level, enlisting well-known public figures, who will be completely apolitical.
At present, work on the website OurRibbon.com is being completed. The contents of the website is now in Hebrew and English but work is being done to translate all into Arabic, Russian and French. The contents of the website were composed mainly by the students.
The students were aided in translating the contents into English by teachers in the school who work with students within the general framework of the high school as part of the interdisciplinary approach of the Nachshon program.