Fifty-nine high school pupils are the finalists for the 17th Young Scientists Competition, with the winners due to receive prizes in the Knesset on Tuesday.

The finalists – Jewish, Arab, religious, secular, boys (32) and girls (27) – competed among 200 who presented their projects to the competition, which is a collaboration between Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Science Museum, Intel Israel and the Education Ministry. This year’s competition is to be held as part of Intel Israel’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

The remaining contestants have worked for months, under the supervision of mentors and teachers, to produce 45 projects in the fields of natural science, mathematics, computers, life sciences and the environment, social sciences and history.

The winners will participate in the international Intel Young Scientists Competition to be held later this year in Arizona.

Last year, winners in the local contest received second place in the field of engineering and fourth in chemistry.

Leora Rothstein of the Neve Hana School in Alon Shvut, working with a Hebrew University geneticist, told The Jerusalem Post during a break in the judging that her project investigated the involvement of a gene mutation in Arab girls lacking ovaries. The condition, resulting from consanguinity (inbreeding) by their first-cousin parents, was discovered when teenage girls were found not to have a menstrual period. The pupil studied genes in flies to understand more about the disease.

Acil Keisar Kavha and Sali Hadra of the Elkasami School in Baka al-Gharbiya developed a glove to help victims of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy who do not have a sense of touch in their hands. As a result of the defect, they can be hurt by holding very hot or cold objects.

Eyal Fischer of the Aharon Katzir municipal school in Tel Aviv devoted his historical and social science research to British soccer in the 1980s as a mirror of political and social processes in that country. The pupil studied speeches, testimony, media reports and commentaries to determine whether soccer violence reflected changes in British society.

Oren Shabi, Amitai Nahari and Eddie Tapiero of Yokne’am used their computer expertise to develop a brain-controlled wheelchair for the severely disabled.

Daniel Yoskovich of Jerusalem’s Science and Arts High School, working with a Shaare Zedek Medical Center geneticist, examined a connection between the genetic disease Gaucher, in which fat accumulates in various bodily organs, and early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

Prof. Hanoch Guttfreund, a leading theoretical physicist and former president of the Hebrew University, heads the judging committee.

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