Summer is for Science


For 11-year-old Yonatan Simchi, "hands-on-science" took on tangible meaning this summer. As one of 63 youngsters in the Institute's new science day camp for grades 5 to 8, Yonatan participated in actual experiments, including one in phase changes, in which he dipped a rubber glove into liquid nitrogen and watched it turn into an icicle.

"I'm demonstrating how material can change form," explained the teacher, Leda Prager. "For instance, a small piece of solid can be converted to a gas and fill the whole room."

For most of the young campers, this two-week program of the Institute's Youth Activities Section was their first encounter with the complexities and excitement of biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics.

These newest summer science enthusiasts joined hundreds of other participants, running the gamut from junior high through college age, who are being "turned on" to research through a variety of Institute summer programs. During their stay, the students lived at the Institute's Laub International Science Youth Village.

The Science and Music Camp gave 35 eighth-graders an opportunity to integrate the worlds of the arts and the sciences, while developing an understanding of each sphere and the relationships between them.

At the Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute, now in its 27th year, 72 high school graduates from 17 countries worked side-by-side with Institute scientists. These young men and women, many of them winners of prestigious high school contests such as the U.S. Westinghouse Talent Search, delved into frontier research projects in photodynamic therapy, solar energy and number theory, among others.

At the same time, their Israeli counterparts, a group of 32 eleventh-graders, attended the two-week Amos de-Shalit Youth Science Workshop, gaining first-hand research experience.

At the Karyn Kupcinet International Summer School, 35 college students from 11 countries, including the U.S., India, Mexico and Croatia, worked in fields ranging from plant genetics to particle physics. The program, under the aegis of the Academic Secretariat, required each student to compose an abstract and to present his or her research results to the other participants.

Thirty promising Israeli university students entering their third year in physics, chemistry or the life sciences spent two weeks becoming acquainted with the range of research on campus in the annual Amos de-Shalit Summer School.

The Institute's summer programs have proved valuable in steering young talent to careers in science. In fact, a significant number of Institute researchers credit their youthful experience at the summer programs with their subsequent decision to pursue a career in science -- right at the Weizmann Institute.