International science summer school opens in Israel


August 7, 2007 Raya Cowan Summer School opens at Weizmann Institute World ORTs inaugural Raya Cowan Summer School has opened at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Six students from Israeli high schools participating in World ORTs $7.4 million Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme have been joined by six from ORT schools in Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania and a further six ORT students from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile for the three-week immersion in science and Jewish culture. The teenagers have formed small groups to perform serious research on various scientific topics with the view of presenting formal presentations on their findings at the end of the summer school.
They are working with sophisticated equipment under the supervision and guidance of experienced researchers, said Dr Yakov Ronkin, World ORTs Research and Development Coordinator.
In addition, the students attend lectures by top Weizmann Institute professors on specialist topics such as neurobiology, the thermodynamic foundations of evolution and particle physics.
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, said Dr Zvi Paltiel, Director of the Weizmann Institute of Sciences Young@Science unit. We hope that this will encourage them to pursue their scientific and technological studies at university and beyond.
ORT students from around the world at the opening of the first Raya Cowan Summer School, held at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The summer school participants were carefully selected in a three-stage process over four months. In the first stage, the applicants with the highest recommendations from their teachers were selected. In the second stage, the students sat a unified aptitude test. And in the third stage, remaining applicants were whittled down through video-conference interviews.
Confident that the most capable students were selected, Dr Ronkin said this should help meet a further goal of the summer school that the teenagers become models of scientific excellence for their peers.
Our aim is to create a group of scientific and technological leaders who, on returning to their respective schools, will present the work they have done at Weizmann and plant the seed of further scientific achievements in those schools, Dr Ronkin said.
The science studies will take up more than six hours a day but there are still plenty of opportunities for the students to experience Israeli life outside the laboratory.
On the schedule are visits to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the National Museum of Science and Technology in Haifa, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and high-tech companies as well as weekend tours of Jerusalem and the north.
The Raya Cowan ORT International Summer School has been made possible 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 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.