Easter Island joins ORT community


2 September 2005 Easter Island, one of the worlds most isolated inhabited islands, has become part of the ORT community. A state of the art science and technology laboratory has been inaugurated at the 900-student Lorenzo Baeza Grammar school, the only high school on the island, which is located 2,300 miles off the west coast of Chile. In association with the Coca-Cola Foundation, which funded the project, ORT Chile was responsible for designing the laboratory, developing the curricula and activities to be carried out there and training the teachers. Equipped with eight computers, each with a digital/analogue interface device, as well as with special sensor kits that allow students to measure physical parameters such as velocity, force, pressure and temperature, the ORT science lab offers its students the best in contemporary science technology. Rodolfo Echeverria, president of the Coca-Cola Foundation, stresses that thanks to the new laboratory the students and professors ‘will have the opportunity to make a qualitative leap, which will allow them to develop and to reach the heights of their counterparts in the world. The Easter Island laboratory is one of 50 programmes that ORT Chile has implemented across the country. The Coca-Cola Foundation has been funding ORT Chiles science education programme since 1996. This project, which teaches science using computers, aims to improve scientific education in Chiles state schools. ORT Chile Director Marcelo Lewkow (left) and World ORT Representative in Latin America Isidoro Gorodischer in Easter Island The inauguration ceremony was attended by the local mayor, Pedro Edmond Paoa, the presidents of the Coca-Cola Foundation, members of the communal Ancient Council, and members of the local authority. Parents and children also contributed to the colourful ceremony, which was conducted by a traditional priest and included Polynesian songs and prayers. For the opening day, students provided scientific demonstrations as they expressed their gratitude for the laboratory. The area of science was weak, said one young pupil, while using an electronic magnifier. The director of the school, Ana Maria Arredondo, said how much she valued the new laboratory. It is a tremendous pedagogical resource to motivate our students towards the development of scientific abilities and also to learn better about their surrounding world and their relationship with it, she said. ORT Chiles Rolando Rockrose, a physicist who is in charge of training the teachers at the school, said he had been dreaming of the day this project reached fruition. The children are going to begin to experiment with the help of the professor, but our goal is that some day they will ask questions that cause scientists to say hmm, I will have to go and study that, he said. The island, which is known as Rapa Nui in the local language, is inhabited by 3,000 people most of them of Polynesian descent. The beautiful monolithic stone heads (moais) that can be seen scattered along the islands coastline are some of the most ancient relics ever discovered. It was Admiral Roggeveen, in 1722, who called it Easter Island after he discovered it on Easter day.