Berlin Serves as Host to 2011 World ORT Board of Representatives Meeting
Ninety years after establishing itself as an international organization in Berlin, World ORT returned to its city of origin to celebrate this historic date at its three-day 2011 Annual Meeting.
ORT America’s National President Shelley Fagel and National Executive Director Alan Klugman were among 97 people from 23 countries attending. A memorial ceremony at the Berlin-Grunewald railway station honored the ORT staff and students deported to Auschwitz and Theresienstadt in June 1943. A ceremony was also held at the Meistersaal, or Great Hall, to commemorate the founding of the Congress of the World ORT Union in 1921.
Several highlights included the launch of World ORT’s “Music and the Holocaust” website; a keynote address by Vice Prime Minister of Israel Silvan Shalom; a presentation by the US ambassador to Germany, Phillip Murphy; and a Robotics Competition among high school students from Argentina, Bulgaria, Israel, and Odessa.
Each group's robot, built to specifications, was judged based on how well it handled an obstacle course. Each team gave its robot a special purpose. The Israeli contingent created something useful to fire fighters while the students from Bulgaria, in a more whimsical mood, created a robot that drew pictures in chocolate syrup on pancakes. (The idea came to them while sitting at home hungering for a good snack.)
The three-year Robotics program devotes the first two years to required Math and Science classes, with the third year given over to actual engineering. Building the robots, as one student stated, allowed them to express their love of science and creative spirits through innovative planning and execution.
“The Robotics competition was amazing," said Mr. Klugman. “The kids worked hard, learned a lot, and got good results. Just as important, the competition gave students the opportunity to gain practical and experimental knowledge in science and math." All three members of the winning team received Apple iPads as a prize.
Another fascinating aspect of the annual conference was the Smart Classroom demonstration, where participants worked with interactive whiteboards. “We experienced in live terms how the Smart Classroom allows the teacher to be on top of the progress of each and every student in the classroom," explained Mr. Klugman. He added that "the Smart Classroom makes it possible for some teachers to save as much as two months of matriculation exam preparatory lessons, which gives them time to teach their subjects in more depth."