Israel's bright scientific future on show in Jerusalem contest

The competition winners and runners-up will benefit from a series of academic scholarships and prizes, and opportunities to present their projects on a global stage.

March 13, 2019 03:25
2 minute read.
Israel's bright scientific future on show in Jerusalem contest

Winners, runners-up and the judging panel of the 22nd annual Israel Young Scientists and Developers Contest, March 12, 2019. (photo credit: YUVAL COHEN AHARONOV)


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If the future lies in the hands of our children, then Israel’s scientific and technological future is certainly in safe hands.

That was the overwhelming feeling as the 22nd annual Israel Young Scientists and Developers Contest reached its climax on Tuesday at Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Science Museum, placing a national spotlight on Israel’s brightest 15 to 20-year-old scientific and academic brains.
The contest, part of the Israel-EU Horizon 2020 R&D partnership and the global Intel-ISEF competition, saw 54 young scientists across the country reach the final, presenting 39 projects in fields ranging from computer science and physics to literature and history.

The prestigious NIS 10,000 first prize was awarded to three projects. Guy Shapira received the prize for his research on “changes in the principle of Maat in the second half of Ancient Egypt’s fifth dynasty,” for which he especially learned Ancient Egyptian.

Aviad Gwali and Daniel Markovich were recognized for their joint project on the development of hybrid electrochemical components combining batteries and capacitors, and Lev Raz Siton also picked up first prize for his work on X-chromosome activation.

Other projects developed by finalists included a smart safe-room offering improved defense for residents under rocket fire; a sea warning system for whirlpools and dangerous undercurrents; a meteorological balloon for monitoring and neutralizing acid rain; a system for producing water suitable for natural energy use; and a biological sensor to identify genotoxic substances that cause damage to DNA structures.

The competition winners and runners-up will benefit from a series of academic scholarships and prizes, and opportunities to present their projects on a global stage.

Selected participants will showcase their innovation at the Intel-ISEF competition in Phoenix, Arizona in May, the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Bulgaria in September, the three-week International Science Camp in Germany in August, and the International Swiss Talent Forum in Nottwil, Switzerland next year.

“This is the raw material, the future leaders in all aspects of public life – in science, leadership, education and, I hope, also in politics,” Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor and chair of the contest judging panel, told The Jerusalem Post.

“There are young people who are motivated, gifted and attracted by the great riddles of nature. They want to understand what happens in the world they live. It is so multi-dimensional that everybody can tap only a small angle but, together, when you look at what all these young people have produced, it covers everything.”

To date, the competition has produced more than 1,000 graduates, most of whom have successfully integrated into the fields of research, academia and business. SpaceIL co-founder Yonatan Weintraub, behind Israeli lunar lander Beresheet’s current journey to the moon, is one of the competition’s most successful alumni.

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