Choose science! Nobel laureate tells ORT students

What the world needs now is more scientists, Nobel laureate Professor Daniel Shechtman told excited students at the Lauder-ORT Jewish School in Bulgaria.

Professor Shechtman talks to local media in the Lauder-ORT School’s newly renovated science lab.

“I encourage young people to study science, to become scientists and engineers. Of course, it’s also important to become artists, poets, musicians – people who give us music and culture give us a taste of our lives. But engineers and scientists create life for us by discovering things by developing new products and hoping to keep the world in peace,” Professor Shechtman said during his tour of the school in the capital, Sofia.

Professor Shechtman, an Honorary Chair of World ORT’s Academic Advisory Council, was in Bulgaria to open the Sofia Science Festival where he delivered the keynote address on Technological Entrepreneurship – Key to World Peace and Prosperity. He also met President Rumen Radev after which the Bulgarian head of state committed the country to deepen its relations with Israel in the fields of education, innovation, technology and agriculture.

“Thank you for coming to Bulgaria to inspire our young people to strive to new scientific research,” President Radev said.

Advice for a fantastic future

While he discussed global themes at the science fair, Professor Shechtman narrowed his focus when talking to the students at the Lauder-ORT school, advising them that in science, as in life in general, they should devote themselves to something they like to if they want to succeed.

Professor Dan Shechtman talks to students aided by English teacher Dimitar Dimitrov as ORT Bulgaria President Dr Emil Kalo looks on.

“Become a professional, be the best, and I promise you that if you are dedicated to what you love, a fantastic future is waiting for you.”

At the school, Professor Shechtman, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2011 for his discovery of quasicrystals, visited the Science and Technology Centre. The laboratory has been renovated and equipped with the help of World ORT. He was also shown the school’s new “Lego lab“, an facility for cross-curricular STEM education and for teaching programming skills, provided thanks to the support of Charles and Alice Kurland and family through ORT America’s Chicago Region.

“It was an honour and a joy for teachers and students to meet the great scientist,” said ORT Bulgaria National Director Plamen Petrov.

“His visit is timely because we’ve started a new study track in Natural Sciences, which follows a project we’ve pursued over several years in which we’ve linked Jewish history, science and the ethical debate on humane and inhumane uses of scientific discoveries,” Mr Petrov added.

World ORT Chief Program Officer Vladimir Dribinskiy said Professor Shechtman’s visit had been an inspiration for students considering a future in STEM, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“His visit was also very important for the school and the local Jewish community. For ORT, it is recognition of how our 15-year partnership with the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation had made the only Jewish school in Bulgaria the best,” he said.

Younger children at the Lauder-ORT School were thrilled to meet the Israeli Nobel laureate.