Arab-Israeli Peace School Adopts JavaME and NetBeans

March 2009

A high-school student presents the mobile game he wrote.

In this interview, Omer Pomerantz shares a heart-warming story of how Sun's Java ME technology found its way to Israel's Ministry Of Education (MOE) and into the curriculum of computer science studies in selected high schools in Israel. Omer Pomerantz is a Sun Principal Engineer and CTO of the Engineering Services team.

Omer, Please introduce yourself and your team.

I'm the CTO of Engineering Services, a team specializing in deploying Java solutions into mobile, TV and embedded systems in the market. I've been with Sun for 12 years, and was one of the founders of the Sun Israel Development Center (SIDC) and the Engineering Services team.

How and when did this high school program get started?

About a half year ago, and following discussions between Yosi Harel (Sun Israel) and the MOE, we were invited to speak about Java technologies at a MOE technology forum. Ariel Levin, a senior architect on our team, gave the presentation which included Java ME. One of the teachers at the forum, Samah Abas, was very interested in Java ME and decided to create a course around it for his high schools students.

A few months later, we followed up with Samah and several members of the MOE technology committee. We discussed Java ME basics, development tools and requirements, course structure and content, and provided general getting-started tips. Within two months a complete program was ready and being taught to students.

What has been accomplished through the program?

Hashalom means peace in Hebrew, and is the name of an Arab school in northern Israel.

“We could see the sparkle in the students' eyes when they discussed their projects.”

Recently, our team visited the school, which is called Hashalom ("peace" in Hebrew). It's an Arab school that serves several Arab villages in northern Israel. We were invited to review selected Java and Java ME projects, and were extremely impressed with the students' work. It was amazing to see the kind of creativity involved.

The Java ME projects focused mainly on gaming. The students used NetBeans mobility and their own mobile phones for development and testing. One project was a Sudoku game; a table view displayed the game, and implemented the necessary logic. Another project involved a memory game. The students created animation to support the functionality of the game. There was also a game of luck, centered around randomly created events.

We could see the sparkle in the students' eyes when they discussed their projects. It was great to see the innovation these students exhibited, as well as the fun they had.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

The first thing that comes to mind is that I should have done this earlier. Java ME is a mature technology with excellent support and tools like the NetBeans IDE. For the students, it presents an engaging way to get into programming. But as the saying goes: “Better late than never.”

What did you enjoy most about this experience?

“This story represents my ability as a Sun employee and a 'good Java citizen' to make a real difference!”

It was an amazing experience for all of us from Sun, and as we learned afterwards - also for the students and their teacher. It was great to see the students so excited about our technology and tools.

As a witness to Java ME development from its earliest days, it was heart-warming to see our technology becoming part of high school studies in our country.

For me, this story represents the true spirit of Sun: from our open-source drive, to our initiative to work with universities and schools, and most important,  my ability as a Sun employee and a "good Java citizen" to make a real difference!

If a school wants to offer Java classes, what should they do?

Sun Learning Services and Sun Education offers an abundance of teaching materials, many of which are available for free to academic and educational establishments. These are very good starting points for introducing Java to schools.

Omer, Thank you for sharing this cool story!

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