High school students rewarded for excellence


February 28, 2007 Competition rewards scientific, technological excellence World ORT has joined forces with the internationally renowned Weizmann Institute of Science to identify and reward scientific and technological excellence among Israels high school students. The Kennedy Leigh Charitable Trust and World ORT are funding the first prize of a $5,000 scholarship towards undergraduate study in a scientific or technological field. Dr Yakov Ronkin, World ORTs Development and Implementation Coordinator, said the competition focused on the year-long research projects that some Israeli teenagers choose to complete as part of their high school matriculation. The students join researchers in universities and institutes and conduct scientific and technological research beyond the regular curriculum, Dr Ronkin said. The Excellence Prize will be given to the student who, in the opinion of the judges, has submitted the best report of their work. Advertising is underway in the Israeli press calling on students to enter the competition by filling in the form at www.weizmann.ac.il/young/worldort by March 8. All entrants will give a presentation of their research at the Weizmann Institute of Science one of the worlds top multidisciplinary research institutions at a symposium later in March. The best five entries will then be sent to World ORTs administrative offices in London where a panel of expert judges, including representatives of the Weizmann Institute of Science, ORT and the Kennedy Leigh Charitable Trust will decide on the overall winner. The five finalists will attend a ceremony at the Weizmann Institute at which the winner will be announced, Dr Ronkin said. Undertaking research at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Dr Zvi Paltiel, Director of The Weizmann Institute of Sciences Young@Science project, said he was working to encourage high school students to undertake such research projects by matching students with mentors who guide them all the way to actual submission of their reports. The students are also given the opportunity to present their research orally to their peers. On top of the visibility their research is gaining, students are practising presentation in a situation resembling a scientific conference. Such experience might become very helpful, whether or not the student will eventually become a scientist, Dr Paltiel said. He said that the Excellence Prize would help the process in three ways: by providing meaningful support for the winners tertiary education, encouraging students to also take part in the symposium presenting the research orally, and by encouraging all senior Israeli high school students to consider undertaking a research project. The Kennedy Leigh Charitable Trust was established by the late self-made millionaire Michael Kennedy Leigh in 1967, the son of Jewish immigrants to the United Kingdom. The trust, 75 per cent of whose annual allocations go to Israeli beneficiaries, supports a wide range of projects in education, medical research, the arts, coexistence, sport and other fields. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.