Russian and Moldovan students inspired at Weizmann Institute


30 March 2007 ORT international network students inspired by Weizmann physics contest The annual Shalheveth Freier Physics Tournament at the Weizmann Institute of Science has been an inspiring experience for brilliant young teams from ORT schools in Moscow and Kishinev. The teams from ORT Kishinev and ORT Moscow School had reached the final of the prestigious competition after beating off competition from other schools in the World ORT network. ORT Moscow School Principal Marina Moiseeva said she was particularly delighted and proud that special recognition had been given to her schools entry. This achievement is possible because of the amazing, creative environment that has developed at our school over its 12 years of existence, the professionalism of our teachers particularly Elena Darovskaya, who worked with the team on their entry and the significant support of World ORT, which has helped us to become what we are and inspired us to move forward, Ms Moiseeva said. At the Weizmann Institute, the ORT teams from the Former Soviet Union faced stiff competition from high schools students from the US, Canada, Israel and Britain. Their task was to each construct a locking system for a safe that operates on the principles of physics. The lock has to be able to be opened in less than five minutes but, in order to win, it has to confound opponents attempts to open it for at least 10 minutes. Entries to what is known as the Safecrackers Competition are scored by a panel of referees, not only for being pick-proof, but also for aesthetics and originality. The ORT Kishinev team. Ms Darovskaya, who participated in World ORTs Wingate seminar in 2004, said she was absolutely delighted and astonished by her teams performance. I have known these kids for many years and this is the first time that my students have been able to put what they have learned into practice in such a prestigious environment. Interviewed by Israels Channel 9 television, team member Vitaly Troitskiy revealed: Our system works using physical features of conductivity as well as Newtons laws. Ms Moiseeva would add only that the lock mechanism relied on communicating vessels, an Archimedes lever, liquid conductivity and thermodynamic effects. Dr Zvi Paltiel, Director of The Weizmann Institutes Young@Science project told Channel 9 he had one regret about the competition. Its a pity that we didnt have events like this when I was a physics student, Dr Paltiel said. We know were on the right path so this year were looking instituting similar competitions in mathematics, chemistry and biology. Ms Moiseeva said the teams performance was all the more remarkable because its members physics brains Igor Borisevich and Janina Balandyk-Opolinskaya, and natural-born engineer Vitaly Troitskiy are only 16 years of age, while the other teams members were 17 or 18. The teams from Moscow and Kishinev put in many hours of extra work to design and construct their safes. But Ms Moiseeva said the special recognition given the Moscow team also validated the innovative project-based learning that her school used. We are the only school in Moscow that has incorporated project-based learning into the regular curriculum and one of only, perhaps, 10 in the whole of Russia, Ms Moiseeva said. This result will raise motivation among our students but I hope it will also help us promote this kind of learning, and technology education, in the wider community. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said he was absolutely delighted with the performance of both the ORT Moscow School and the ORT Kishinev teams. That these students were not only able to win a place at the final but also, in ORT Moscow Schools case, to merit a special mention is testament to the excellence of ORT Russias research and development centre that has developed such a positive science learning environment. After an enforced absence, World ORT returned to Russia, the country of its birth, in 1991. It now coordinates operations in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan 53 projects in 32 locations serving more than 30,000 people. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.