Eight students enrolled in a sophomore science research class at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck, NJ secured a first place victory in the prestigious international Gildor Family Projects and Inventions Competition in Israel. The Gildor Family Projects and Inventions Competition, which is sponsored by the Israel Center for Excellence in Education, challenges young scientists to use creativity and knowledge to address a given societal issue. This year’s challenge was to “design a ‘smart’ system to prevent train/vehicle collisions through the use of automated elements and electronic sensors.”
The Ma’ayanot team, comprised of Liat Clark, Sarah Hiller, Chaya Levin, Devorah Saffern, Ahuva Shafier, Tova Sklar, Sarah Weinberg and Kira Paley, solved the challenge by building photosensors to detect the car and train, electromagnets to stop the train, and rubber rollers to move the car to safety.
The team, which worked all year to solve the Gildor challenge, first competed in May against teams from six other American Jewish day schools in a competition sponsored and overseen by the New York based Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE). After securing a first place win at this semi-final level, the team, with sponsorship from CIJE, traveled to Israel to compete against several Israeli teams that had won at the semi-final level of the Gildor competition in Israel.
The competition in Israel involved several rounds of judging during which team members were required to explain their project design from numerous scientific and technical perspectives. After expertly explaining each aspect of the project to the judges, the Ma’ayanot team was declared a first-place winner in the competition. Judy Lebovitz, Vice President and Director at CIJE, commented, “Ma’ayanot’s performance in Jerusalem was exemplary. As the first all-girls team to win this competition, they serve as role models for young Jewish women in future generations.”
While the Ma’ayanot students were nervous after the judging, Noam Weinberger, the team’s teacher, felt optimistic. “I had the impression that the judges were very impressed with the practicality and creativity of our team’s solution to the challenge. Equally impressive, I think, was the level of teamwork displayed, the way in which our students divided the work but successfully collaborated to produce an excellent solution, and the fact that our students built all of their sensors from scratch. I felt confident that they would win.”
Elana Flaumenhaft, Assistant Principal at Ma’ayanot who traveled to Israel with the team, proudly noted that “the ability of our students to articulate and explain their project to the judges was impressive. This amazing win is one example of how we endeavor to enable our students to believe that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to. This is what Ma’ayanot believes in and stands for.”
Mrs. Rivka Kahan, Ma’ayanot’s principal, stated: “This honor reflects the students’ intellectual creativity and the many hours of dedicated hard work that they devoted to their invention. We are filled with pride in their work and scientific achievement.”
Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School is an all-girls Modern Orthodox High School in Teaneck, New Jersey. Ma’ayanot provides a rigorous college preparatory education, characterized by an educational approach that empowers students to master independent, text-based study in both Jewish and general studies. For more information about Ma’ayanot visit their website at www.maayanot.org.