New STEM Center opens at ORT school in Sofia


A new creative industries technology center at the ORT school in Bulgaria will be a catalyst for students to develop their expertize in media editing, animation, 3D modelling, augmented reality, mobile apps and more.

The center at the ORT No. 134 “Dimcho Debelianov” Jewish School in Sofia extends the existing facilities and provides new areas and flexible spaces focused on project-based and experiential learning.

It will be dedicated to multidisciplinary lessons in STEM subject areas, aimed at developing 21st century skills including creativity, technical and digital literacy, and critical and innovative thinking.

The Dr Emil Kalo STEM Center for Technology in the Creative Industries is named in memory of the late ORT Bulgaria Chairman and former World ORT Trustee who died earlier this year.

The project was developed by the school in conjunction with the Correct Consulting Group and ORT Bulgaria, and with ORT team members including Plamen Petrov, Tsveta Lashkova and Petar Todorinski.

Plamen Petrov, ORT Bulgaria national director, said: “The curriculum will focus on acquiring knowledge and creative digital skills in a motivating way. It will direct students to professions related to video content, video games and digital tools, mobile apps or the development of new products and services in a technological environment which mirrors real-life industry practises.

“One of the highlights of the center’s activities will be joint educational projects with experts from the scientific community and business world.”

Students meet ORT Bulgaria alumni David Haleba – who attended the school in the 1940s – along with Aaron Bali at the opening of the center

The center will promote Jewish history and culture, as well as the great scientific achievements of the Jewish world. The ORT school is already the host venue of the World ORT Digital Skills Academy, an annual summer school which develops students’ abilities in film, photography and other media.

An opening event at the school this week was attended by leading figures including statesmen, scientists teachers, creative industry professionals, Jewish community representatives and other public figures.

Ninth grade students used the new facilities to provide a demonstration of a STEM lesson.

Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “The opening of this fantastic STEM center is a welcome step in our continuing, long-term investment in the Sofia school and the development of young people in the city’s Jewish community.

“It is also a lasting testament to the dedication, commitment and inspiration shown by our much-missed colleague Emil Kalo, whose decades-long contribution to the school, Bulgarian Jewry and the wider ORT network changed so many lives.”

Students using the multi-purpose space in the STEM center

The event also saw the launch of a documentary book about the history of ORT Bulgaria and its first school. In the World of Dreams was co-authored by school alum David Haleba, his friend Aaron Bali and Ivanka Gezenko of the State Archives Agency.

School principal Vessela Paldamova addressed guests at the opening, including Yoram Elron, Israel’s Ambassador to Bulgaria; Dr Vanya Kastreva, Head of the Regional Department of Education in Sofia; Dr Kalo’s wife Velika; and Plamen Petrov.