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Three Herzliya girls who invented a cheap, tiny mesh cup of titanium to prevent movement of a dental implant and minimize subsequent destruction of the jawbone won first prize in Intel-Israel's Young Scientists Competition.
Diana Galstian, Victoria Yablick and Yvgenia Kosoi will soon fly to the US to represent Israel in the International Intel Young Scientists Competition and receive university scholarships when they finish their military service.
The top prize was awarded on Wednesday, National Science Day - the anniversary of Albert Einstein's birthday - by Education Minister Yuli Tamir and soon-to-be science minister Ghaleb Majadle at Jerusalem's Bloomfield Science Museum.
During the past nine years, the competition's finalists were invited for the award ceremony by the president at Beit Hanassi, but there is now no permanent resident of the President's House.
Fifty-four teenagers - half of them girls, a quarter of them Arabs and a fifth Russian immigrants - competed in the annual competition, having been chosen from among hundreds of competitors aged 16 to 18.
The 44 projects, which encompassed the biology, mathematics and computers, environmental science, history and the humanities, included a variety of innovations, among them robots that play soccer and detect and put out fires; a computer program that logically completes sentences; a means to fight plant disease in vineyards; stem cell manipulations for treating coronary infarction; a chemical way to clean steam boilers; and a program that draws three-dimensional mathematical figures. A team of three Druse youngsters from the village of Beit Jann in the North designed tiny parachutes that can be thrown from a plane by the thousands to detect and clean up pollution in the air, while two from Netivot presented leading physics projects.
Intel-Israel CEO Yitzhak Ohayon said the contestants showed knowledge, curiosity, a yen for research and the ability to deal with intellectual challenges. "I am sure that from this group will emerge scientists who will contribute to the future of Israel."
Second place was shared by Hagai Helman of Jerusalem's Reut School, who investigated the mathematical issue of function storage, along with Yvgeny Kinar of the ORT School in Jerusalem's Givat Ram who investigated genetic therapy for cancer by silencing of the H19 oncogene.
Third place was shared by Nancy Albasal of the Orthodox High School in Ramle who investigated imaging of a live, isolated cell in moderate radiation at sub-micronic SNIM resolution, along with Yael Amarilio of the Rishon Lezion Gynnasia for her work on identifying and molecular characterization of phytoplasma bacteria in vines to help save the wine industry. Nine others received honorable mentions.
Meanwhile, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities marked National Science Day on Wednesday with a public lecture on energy and environment by Prof. Yuan-T. Lee, a Nobel Prize laureate and president emeritus of Taiwan's academy of sciences, who arrived in a high-level scientific delegation from his country.