Teenagers from Israel and eight other countries will be literally getting to grips with science at this year’s World ORT Rosner English and Science Summer School in London.
The participants “ﾓ including Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Israel as well as students from Moldova, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Italy, Mexico, France and Estonia “ﾓ have been selected by their schools for their high academic achievement and good conduct. On returning to their respective schools they will be expected to use their improved English-language skills to help other children with their studies.
Over the next two weeks, the 29 teenagers can look forward to a whirlwind introduction to the sights and sounds of the British capital, including a look at some of its rich Jewish heritage, as well as nearly 30 hours of intensive, top quality English-language tuition.
But an afternoon with the Science Outreach team at Royal Holloway, University of London looks like something they can really get their teeth into.
“We will give them geological maps like mining companies use and get them to make three-dimensional models from the data using things like bread, pickles, jam and chocolate to indicate the different strata under the surface. It’s rather like a large, disgusting sandwich “ﾓ we call it edible geology,”? said physicist Dr Jenny Lardge, one of the presenters.
In another session, the kids will be split into small groups to build components of a rollercoaster using K’nex, ultimately putting everything together into what one hopes will be an operational whole.
“The exercise takes the children through principles of engineering and the end product can be used to explore the physical laws of speed, momentum and force,”? Dr Lardge said. “But both sessions require teamwork and collaboration and so will make them practice their English, too.”?
Dr Lardge admits, though, that the main aim is to stimulate an interest in science and the activities have been chosen to appeal to a broad range of students, whether scientifically inclined or not.
In the same evangelical spirit, the international group will visit the forensics laboratories at University College London, which boasts the world’s first university department devoted specifically to reducing crime.
There, said Shivani Lamba, of Forensics Outreach, they will be shown just how realistic “ﾓ or not “ﾓ television shows like CSI really are.
“A medical student who is studying forensic pathology will be giving them a hands-on introduction to forensic anthropology, that is the excavation of human bones as opposed to soft tissue,”? said Ms Lamba, who has a background in neuroscience. “The techniques used to establish cause and circumstances of death are the same as those used in crime labs.”?
All this will be put into a wider, historical context with a tour of the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. Considered one of the world’s greatest museums of comparative anatomy, pathology, osteology and natural history, it has developed from the 15,000 specimens collected by the 18th century surgeon John Hunter.
Bat-El Ranya, 16, is particularly looking forward to the Hunterian Museum.
“I have dreamed of being a surgeon since I was nine years old,”? Bat-El, a student at Tefen High School in the Galilee. “My grandmother got cancer and I felt weak because I couldn’t do anything. I want to improve my English because it is a very big part of being a doctor: most of the research and information at university is in English.”?
This is Bat-El’s first time out of Israel and she said she was excited by the prospect of combining a taste of different cultures with a proper study programme.
“I love studying,”? she said. “I like school and I like to get up every morning knowing that I’m going to learn something new.”?
To take their minds off the macabre there will be a visit to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich where the group can straddle the exact line of zero degrees longitude, the original of Greenwich Mean Time, and watch one of the world-famous astronomy shows.
Amazingly, there will also be time to take in some of London’s top tourist sites, such as the London Eye, Wembley Stadium, the London Dungeon and Canary Wharf as well as Parliament, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, a visit to a West End musical, and a tour of New West End Synagogue, one of Britain’s oldest and most beautiful places of Jewish worship.
Michelle Villarreal, 15, is a student at the CIM-ORT school in Mexico City, which has just become the first Jewish school in the Central American country to affiliate with World ORT. She went through an exhaustive selection process at the school in order to become the first student from Mexico to attend World ORT Rosner English and Science Summer School.
“Making history as the first one from my country is awesome; I can’t believe it,”? Michelle said.
A madricha with the Hashomer Hatzair Zionist youth group, Michelle is already used to leading children in educational, as well as recreational, activities so is not fazed by her duty to pass on the English-language skills she will be acquiring in London. But she is particularly excited by the prospect of meeting people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
“I want to know more about other cultures and make friends from other countries, not just Israel,”? she said. “I want to hear how Jewish people in other countries live Jewishly.”?
Among the non-Israelis she will meet are Simon Holy, 16, a student at the Lauder Gur Aryeh Jewish Community Day School, the Czech Republic’s only Jewish school.
Simon was selected for place at the Summer School after winning an English competition for 10th graders in his school district in Prague.
Last year his school, which features the ORT Lauder-Tye Science and Technology Centre, won the right to extend its lyceum-standard high school programme from four to eight years, enabling students to benefit from the more rigorous secondary curriculum up until the age of 18.
“ORT has given my school Interactive Whiteboards which have made classes much more fun and more engaging. Personally, I find biology very difficult. I find it hard to visualise how things are. But the Whiteboards show me things which make it much easier for me to learn,”? Simon said.
While Simon is open to the science element of the Summer School, his primary interest is in improving his English.
“I would like to be a translator so I need good English,”? he said. “But I enjoy learning languages; I also want to learn Japanese and other languages.”?
Among the Israelis is Rodin Shomaf, 16, a member of the Circassian community. A student at the Anna Frank High School near the Lebanese border, Rodin has never been to the United Kingdom before but is one of the best English speakers in his school.
“I use English a lot on the Internet and sometimes my brother, sister and I talk to each other in English “ﾓ for example jokes which sound better in English than in Hebrew,”? he said.
Rodin’s mother works in a packing factory and his father is in the army and he has his eyes set on a career as a technician, perhaps maintaining factory machinery.
“English is very useful, it’s the international language; if I want to go to America or just to study technology, I need English,”? he said.
The calibre and variety of students combined with a packed, stimulating programme promised to make this year’s Summer School one to remember, said Camp Coordinator Joe Wolfson.
“This year promises to be another outstanding summer school for all involved,”? Mr Wolfson said. “The summer school serves as a wonderful way of bringing together students from many different countries across the World ORT network for a summer in London that its participants will remember for the rest of their lives.”?