Physics is so much more than F = ma – the challenge is how to make students see beyond dry equations and engage with the mysteries of the universe, understanding of which can be both intellectually and materially rewarding.
It’s a challenge which 17 educators from nine countries are throwing themselves into at the World ORT Hatter Technology Seminar, which opened today at ORT House, London.
Under the title “New Directions in Physics Education”, the teachers will investigate how to share the best ideas and practices in order to help ORT students unlock a deeper understanding of the world around us.
Helping them are some outstanding guest presenters including: Charles Tracy and Jessica Rowson from the Institute of Physics, who will address issues such as attracting more girls to the subject, and the Director of the Institute for Research in Schools, Dr Becky Parker, who will explore how to introduce high level physics in an accessible way.
Physics is one of the most challenging subjects in the school curriculum, according to World ORT Director General and CEO Shmuel Sisso, requiring students to master difficult concepts and skills and to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena – but successfully teaching it will have an impact on everyone.
“In preparing our next generation of physicists, our teachers are also producing the problem-solvers, and their creative thinking will be crucial to addressing many of the challenges facing us all. Whether applied to engineering, manufacturing or medicine, physics is critical for the development of new technologies that will help shape the societies of the future,” he said.
This year’s Hatter Technology Seminar, the 14th in the series supported by entrepreneur and World ORT President Emeritus Sir Maurice Hatter, represents a sea-change in its approach to meet the demands of today’s schools.
Early seminars focused on specific areas of technology, but that was no longer sufficient to meet the need that Diaspora schools in particular have to remain competitive, said World ORT Chief Program Officer Vladimir Dribinskiy, adding that that means addressing education “as such”.
“We must address fundamental disciplines like physics but at the same time ORT is involved in the development of interdisciplinary methods: 21st century learning skills as well as individualised and collaborative learning. All these things are changing dramatically the educational arena and are relevant to us. If we don’t succeed in this race, in this competition, then that will add some drama into the future of Jewish schools. That’s why we’re happy to have you who are at the frontiers of STEM education in your schools,” he said.
Also happy is Lady Hatter, who represented Sir Maurice at the Seminar’s official opening.
“ORT is in Maurice’s blood,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to see people from all over the world come together and achieve so much. This Seminar will go from strength to strength.”