News release from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev News, Jan. 30, 2007
On Tuesday, January 30, 2007, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev dedicated the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center in the Sacta-Rashi Building for Physics. Participating in the ceremony on BGU's Marcus Family Campus was University President Prof. Rivka Carmi, Ramon's widow Rona Ramon, and extended family, NASA astronaut Joseph Tanner, NASA's Director of Innovative Technology Transfer Partnerships Benjamin Neumann, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Steve MacLean, Director-General and Executive Vice-President of the Sacta-Rashi Foundation Elie Elalouf and Beer-Sheva Mayor Yaakov Terner. The event is one of a series of events commemorating the fourth anniversary since the Columbia space shuttle broke up after reentering the atmosphere on February 1, 2003, killing all seven crew members, including Col. Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut.
"This Center will encourage high school students to 'reach for the stars,'" said Master of Ceremonies and member of the Department of Physics Prof. Ramy Brustein. The Center including advanced computer terminals, a planetarium and a roof-top observatory is the culmination of a joint effort of the University, the Sacta-Rashi Foundation and the Ministry of Education. University President Prof. Rivka Carmi praised the initiative that led to the creation of the unique Center. "This is a first class educational facility that provides youth with a local role model and hero." Referring to Ramon as "a child of the Negev," she noted that the facility will "keep his memory alive in the activities that will take place here."
The Center will be the focal point of the Foundation's Madarom (Science in the South) Project, explained Elie Elaouf, "and strengthen high school students' love of learning. We must invest in educating youth ? particularly in the south so that the country can develop." He noted that the Center is unique in Israel and thanked the University and the Ministry of Education for working together towards the scientific enrichment of high school students.
Rona Ramon thanked all of the partners for helping her family commemorate her husband's memory. "We decided to focus all of the projects honoring Ilan in the field of education, particularly here in Beer-Sheva where he grew up."
Located in the new Sacta-Rashi Building for Physics, the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center will significantly upgrade the quality of physics instruction for teenagers in the region. The state-of-the-art educational facilities will potentially serve some 10,000 high school students, and include a physics laboratory for 12th grade pupils; a computerized laboratory for pupils working on matriculation projects in physics; a planetarium; a roof-top observatory and a physics laboratory for the study of mechanics, electricity and optics.
The Center will also encourage pupils to carry out individual projects in physics, and will emphasize on identifying gifted pupils and help them to pursue advanced studies, taking the benefit of sophisticated laboratories and academic staff.