The Legacy Heritage Fund has awarded a grant to 16-year-old Lucas Eggers that will allow him to study science in Israel this summer through their Internship for Young Scientists.
The program sends high school juniors on a five-week study trip to Israel. Participants tour the country for a week and then hunker down with a scientist from Belmonte Laboratories at Hebrew University. The students read “a fat research package” of their selected scientist’s work and then design their own hypothesis and experiment in response.
“I’d conducted some scientific research before, but not to this scale, so that was the draw for me,” Lucas told me. (He spent part of the summer between his freshman and sophomore years dissecting bugs for his aunt, who’s an entomologist at the University of Illinois.)
The science, and the opportunity to visit Israel for the first time, were both draws for the Mercer Island High School junior. His primary interest is in physics, which he credits to his “really great teacher” at the school. (Maybe the bugs can take some credit, too.)
“I’m interested in things that can make an impact on people, not just research for the sake of research,” he told me. He’d like to work in a cutting-edge field like nanotechnology or “materials manufacturing, as people become more and more green and worried about what’s good for your body.”
Lucas also enjoys playing classical and jazz piano, although he’s had to give up jazz studies in the interest of time. For his culminating project at school, he will perform Beethoven’s Pathetique (Piano Sonata Number 8), which he chose for its difficulty and because it “was the theme song to a talk show my grandfather listened to, and he passed away when I was in 7th grade, which brought more meaning to the piece.”
He’s also in the Debate Club at MIHS; he and his debate partner placed ninth at the last state tournament.
The foundation will ask him to submit his research findings to a science competition, and, when he returns to the United States, to complete an Israel advocacy project.
“It essentially means you will give talks to your high school,” he says, “or if you find anti-Semitism in your newspaper [that] you write letters to them…they would like you to show that you learned something from it, [that it wasn't] just a free tour of Israel.”
Lucas is the son of Lisa and Mitch, and the family belongs to Temple De Hirsch Sinai.
More information about the fund is at: www.legacyheritage.org.
Ilana Cone Kennedy of the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center got to participate in a very intimate conference of Holocaust educators in February, which she calls “absolutely amazing.”
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Western States Summit was held in Las Vegas with only 50 participants, all of whom struggled with some of the big issues facing the future of Holocaust education.
“One of the big ones…is where Holocaust education is going [to go] when the survivors are no longer with us,” says Ilana.
The highlight for the resource center’s director of education was “the opportunity to meet some of these people,” many of whom she’s had e-mail or phone contact with, but she'd “never had the chance to meet them face to face and talk to them about their ideas.”
Some of the other challenges facing educators are keeping people interested in the topic, and fitting Holocaust education into local curricula, when there are so many standards.
“We had way more questions than answers, but we had great discussions.”
Dee Simon, co-director of the Holocaust Center, tells me that continuing Holocaust education after the survivors are gone is a hot topic at all of the conferences that staff members attend.
About a third of the Western States group were teachers or representatives from schools, many of them public schools. Others were from organizations or museums west of Nevada.
“One of the things…that was very exciting was to…figure out new ways to approach what we’re doing, like getting the survivors’ stories into the hands of the students” if no speaker is available with, for example, posters or booklets.
Ilana says the three full days of meetings (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., with “no time for gambling”) were thought-provoking and inspiring.
“I sat on the plane on the way home and made lists of all the things I wanted to do and people I wanted to work with, and people we could partner with, and [also] ways that we could improve some of the programs we are already doing.”
For more information about the center, visit their Web site at www.wsherc.org or call 206-441-5747.