Physicists Albert Einstein (left) and Arthur Compton appear together at an event held at the University of Chicago. Physicists Albert Einstein (left) and Arthur Compton appear together at an event held at the University of Chicago. Physicists Albert Einstein (left) and Arthur Compton appear together at an event held at the University of Chicago. (Photo: Keystone / Getty Images)

New international partnership to promote Einstein, STEM education

No. 1 initiative is to make science ‘cool’ again for students.

Albert Einstein is about to be introduced to a whole new generation of aspiring scientists.

The Smithsonian Institution is teaming up with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where the physicist's archives are kept, to promote the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (collectively known as "STEM").

The collaboration will include multiple initiatives. First up is a gala event on Sept. 9, 2017, called the Dinner of the Century, which will gather leaders from the sciences and humanities. That event will celebrate the publication of "Genius: 100 Visions of the Future," which is being dubbed the world's first 3D-printed book. Designed by renowned artist Ron Arad, the book will feature 100 of the greatest modern-day icons and influencers like J.K. Rowling and Mark Zuckerberg to share their wisdom and visions for the future.

In addition, the American and Israeli educational institutions will come together to co-host a global STEM Summit the following day, Sept. 10, 2017, in Washington D.C. The summit serves to showcase innovation and scientific work from both institutions and allow the general public access to leading minds and innovators in various fields.

Rami Kleinmann is the President and CEO of the Canadian Friends of The Hebrew University, a group that's helping spearhead the new project. Along with the Smithsonian, they are developing new curriculum that he hopes will make STEM subjects more inviting to young students. "Everybody today wants to be a celebrity or work for Google. But the awareness and the desire to study sciences are becoming more challenging," he told From The Grapevine. "Science has to be cool. Unfortunately, it's not cool today."

Kleinmann's organization is also behind the annual "Next Einstein" prize, which scours the world for the next grand idea. Last year's winner was a 13-year-old who invented a way to construct strong, inexpensive, 3D-printed prosthetic hands.

"Einstein was a regular, ordinary teenager that struggled with the same thing that teenagers are struggling with today," Kleinmann said. "And after all that, he chose his own path and came up with one of the most influential discoveries of our time."

Professor Hanoch Gutfreund, the academic director of the Albert Einstein Archives at Hebrew University, agrees that the world's most beloved scientist is the perfect messenger for today's young minds. "There is this perception that Einstein was a genius working alone, and discovering everything. That's not true," he told From The Grapevine from his home in Israel. "There was a whole community. He corresponded with dozens of great researchers, great minds. He made many mistakes. Many of his colleagues corrected him, but he was a leader. He was kind of an inspiration for everybody."

Einstein's famous theory turned 100 last November, and celebrations will continue throughout this year. Gutfreund says he's also working on a new book about the formative years of the theory of relativity, when it was still being rethought and reformulated. "Some basic guiding principles were abandoned, but still the theory survived on much better grounds," he said. He also revealed that there's an Einstein movie in the works. "It will be another reason to celebrate. It will be an intellectual party."


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New international partnership to promote Einstein, STEM education
Smithsonian Institute and Hebrew University partnership's No. 1 initiative is to make STEM education cool again for students.