Gifted children brought to Weizmann Institute


09 March, 2007 World ORT brings gifted children to Weizmann Institute Gifted students from around the world are being given the opportunity to spend three weeks learning about science and Jewish culture in Israel thanks to a new joint venture by World ORT and the internationally renowned Weizmann Institute of Science. The Raya Cowan ORT International Summer School at the Weizmann Institute of Science starts this year thanks to a $300,000 donation to ORT America from the estate of Raya Cowan, a Polish refugee who became a US citizen in 1946. The inaugural summer school will see 20 high school students from Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Bulgaria, France, Brazil, the Former Soviet Union and Israel enjoying the privilege of learning with some of the worlds best scientific brains. Students from additional countries will be included in future summer schools. Dr Yakov Ronkin, World ORTs Development and Implementation Coordinator, said a science test in English would be completed by students recommended by their own teachers; the cr me de la cr me would then be selected for the summer school through an interview process. English is the lingua franca of the science world, Dr Ronkin said. So its important that the participants are able to communicate well in English in addition to demonstrating enthusiasm for, and ability in, science. The eligible students will be at the end of their 11th grade: the timing of the programme has been chosen to inspire and motivate students to achieve their maximum potential in their final year at school and set an example of scientific excellence for their peers. The programme includes intensive laboratory work, lectures, tours and social activities. Students will work on their own research projects in different laboratories selected from the fields of biochemistry, biology, chemistry, mathematical and computer sciences and physics, said Dr Ronkin. They will work with sophisticated equipment under the supervision and guidance of experienced researchers. In addition, senior Weizmann Institute scientists will present lectures on specialist topics such as gene therapy, brain research and particle physics. The Weizmann Institute of Science is opening up a new world of learning opportunities for gifted World ORT students. In addition, several lectures and laboratory activities are planned in the fields of biotechnology, bioinformatics, material sciences and nanotechnology, photodynamic treatment of cancer, genetic engineering and cryptography. The students themselves will be encouraged to lead seminars on subjects of their choosing, added Dr Zvi Paltiel, Director of The Weizmann Institute of Sciences Young@Science project. The summer school aims to widen and deepen students knowledge of modern scientific and technological research by giving them the opportunity to participate actively in such research, Dr Paltiel said. Not only do we hope that this experience will enhance the students self-confidence to deal with complicated scientific questions but that they will be encouraged to pursue their scientific and technological studies at university and beyond, he added. The summer school will also feature visits to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the National Museum of Science and Technology in Haifa, high-tech companies near the Weizmann Institute, as well as other sites of interest. This is a tremendous opportunity for World ORT students from around the world to be challenged by the worlds leading scientists, said ORT America National President Judy Menikoff. They will have incredible opportunities and experiences that will really broaden their horizons. The Raya Cowan ORT International Summer School complements World ORTs Kadima Mada 2007, a NIS 32 million ($7.4 million) programme aimed at raising the standards of science and technology education in Israel. The programmes hundreds of projects in more than 30 local authorities mark a new phase in World ORTs 59-year-long commitment to bring the best practical education available to the Jewish State. The summer school will link the most talented students in Israel with their peers in the Diaspora, said World ORT Director General Robert Singer. Who knows, these bonds that are being forged may lead to future Nobel Prize winners. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot is one of the worlds top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. The Institute, which is noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, is home to 2.300 scientists, students, technicians and supporting staff. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has helped more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish since its foundation in 1880.