World ORT students thrilled by science at the Weizmann Institute

A sense of excitement always pervades the start of a World ORT summer programme and this year’s Davidson-World ORT Summer Science Institute is no different. But as the first of the science institute’s three weeks drew to a close the tingle of anticipation only increased.

“This is just the place where I should be,” said mathematician William Wallace Carvalho Marques da Silva .

“The mentors have all told me they’re happy – the students are smart, they understand what we’re doing, what we’re saying, they ask questions… So I’m confident that it’s going to go very well,” said Dr Dorit Granot, Director of International Programs at the Davidson Institute for Science Education.

“Smart” may be an understatement in describing this group of 12 boys and eight girls from 11 countries who have come together in Israel to pursue high level research with post-graduate students at the world renowned Weizmann Institute of Science. They have been divided into groups and presented with research topics. At the end of the programme each group will present a paper on their topic.

William Wallace Carvalho Marques da Silva has come all the way from Brazil, where he attends the Instituto de Tecnologia ORT, and is looking forward to getting his teeth into proving fundamental theorems using number theory.

“So far we’ve been doing some preliminary studies to prepare for the projects, so we’ve been studying matrices, linear equations…,” William said. “I’m really enjoying it, this is just the place where I should be.”

It’s the 17-year-old’s first time outside Brazil and he’s relishing being part of such a diverse group as well as being in a scientific establishment he now thinks about joining one day.

“It’s really important to have this contact with people from other cultures,” he said.

“This is my first time abroad on my own,” said Martha Krumphanzlova. “It’s exciting to have a new experience like this.”

Marta Krumphanzlova, 18, from Prague, would like to study medicine and had hoped to conduct biology-related research this month. Instead, her topic is in the field of organic chemistry and involves investigating molecules which can expand thanks to the behaviour of their electrons. But she is in no way disappointed.

“I find this field really amazing – I never imagined I could do it!” Marta, a student at the Lauder School, said. “We’re starting to do chemical experiments in the lab, they take a lot of time and require patience.”

One of the two Argentineans on the programme is Joel Sobol Mark. He is studying how evolution works by running computer simulations, analysing the results and doing experiments.

“I’ve looked at this at school; it’s one of the most interesting fields in computing at the moment. But the difference is that here at the Weizmann I have the brightest minds in the world to help me and explain how things work. I have the chance to learn a lot,” Joel said.

This evolutionary computation has huge potential in a wide range of applications, he said, and was a field he would like to be part of in the future.

“This summer school will give me a lot of valuable experience which I will be able to use for the rest of my career.”