Science summer school a great success


29 August 2007 Science summer school a great success World ORTs inaugural Raya Cowan Summer School at Israels Weizmann Institute of Science has been hailed a success. Dr Zvi Paltiel, Director of the Weizmann Institutes Young@Science unit, said there had been some concerns about the viability of a programme that would bring together 18 students from the disparate cultures of Israel, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile. We didnt know what to expect, Dr Paltiel said. But it turned out to be very successful and the students from these various countries all integrated into one very nice and active group. Im sure that the students learned a lot about science not only the exciting things but also the reality that scientific work can also be hard and even tedious. For the three-week summer school, the teenage participants were divided into nine research groups, each under the personal supervision of a Weizmann Institute scientist. The summer school concluded with each group preparing a written and oral presentation of its work. The research included investigating the anti-inflammatory properties of compounds derived from marijuana to the molecular bases of Alzheimers disease neuropathology. I heard some of the presentations and they were very, very interesting, said Dr Paltiel. The students take a break from the laboratory. Yaara Karniel, who is in a class for gifted children at the Kiryat Ata High School in Israel, was in a group that undertook theoretical research in hydrodynamics, specifically the distribution of inertial particles in coquette flow. It was exciting to study something at the level of a Masters student, she said. All the Israeli participants attend schools participating in World ORTs $7.2 million Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. Aviv Ben-David, a student at Kiryat Yam, studied the crystallisation of mitPheRS in presence of different substrates. Aviv said of the summer school: Normally, to bring kids together who dont know each other and who have different languages and cultures and expect them to live together can be very difficult. But our group bonded very well. The common interest in science and our connection with ORT meant we all felt part of the same family. Gal Bitan, a student at Misgav Regional High School, added that not only did he enjoy his groups work searching for the MSSM neutral Higgs particles he appreciated the cultural aspects of the summer school, too. These included visits to the National Museum of Science and Technology in Haifa, tours of high-tech companies and a weekend tour of Jerusalem. The group even spent one evening in the desert using a telescope to see a meteor shower and the planet Jupiter. The parents of Chilean student Tamara Gejman who researched the molecular and cellular characterisation of the cardiac lineages in the early avian embryo wrote to thank World ORT for the valuable experience their daughter had had on the summer school. She had the chance to meet different youngsters from different countries, has been in an advanced scientific environment, has visited diverse places in Eretz Israel, has been able to develop as a person and had much fun too, Silvia and Roberto Gejman said. And ORT Brazil National Director Hugo Malajovich wrote that Brazilian students Fernando Beer Frenkel and Fernanda da Cruz Nunes were anxious to tell other ORT Brazil students what they had seen and what they did during the course. Dr Yakov Ronkin, World ORTs Research and Development Coordinator, said this was a goal of the summer schools 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 school, will present the work they have done at Weizmann and plant the seed of further scientific achievements in those schools, Dr Ronkin said. 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.