plane landing 88.
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Flashing lights, laser beams and screeching sirens filled the corridors of the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem from the inventions of competitors in the annual Gildor Family Projects and Inventions competition Sunday, where finalists gathered to present their projects to the panel of judges.
The annual competition is held between member schools of the Excellence 2000 network, a group of schools in Israel and the United States that fosters the development of outstanding students in all aspects of academic and social life. The competition is usually held during the summer, but due to the war with Lebanon it was postponed to Sunday.
Each year the students are charged with the task of solving a particular problem. This year, in conjunction with the Israel Air Force (IAF) and other organizations, the students were challenged with developing a system to keep birds out of the path of airplanes and away from farms. Of the 160 schools that are part of the Israeli Excellence 2000 network, 10 groups from different schools of grade 10 students were selected to vie for the top prize of NIS 28,000.
According to the IAF, hundreds of birds a year are killed by helicopter blades and airplanes. The American-based Bird Strike Committee reported that more than US $600 million in damage occurs to civilian and military aircraft from bird strikes in the US. The situation in Israel is especially severe because of its unique location at the junction of three continents, making it the intersection for the migration of over 500 million birds crossing the skies twice a year.
A group from Mevo'ot Eiron, near Kibbutz Ein Shemer, designed a system of sensors activated by movement. Upon detection, lights flash, sprinklers spray water and a series of loud sounds are emitted, scaring the birds away. The group claimed their design was effective, simple and cheap.
The winning idea, employed by a group from Orot Efek in Kiryat Bialik, involved thermal detectors that identify the flight paths of the birds and activate an audio-visual system. The audio-visual system then emits a random series of sounds at different pitches, including the calls of predatory birds.
Second and third prize went to the Achva Middle School in Taba and the Nazareth Baptist School, respectively.
Participants came from across the geographic and ethnic spectrum of the country, with students from Daliat al-Carmel and Haifa to Nazareth and Netanya.
"The idea is to advance the entire education system through fostering the development of excellent students and teaching them to inspire and encourage others," said Moish Berdichev, the director of Excellence 2000. "When we started the program 19 years ago, one of our main goals was that the network should be open to all of Israeli society, Jews and non-Jews alike."
The students started working on the projects at the beginning of the previous academic year and said they were excited to display their accomplishments.
"We had a lot of ideas and had to combine them," said Serene Afifi, 15, from the Nazareth Baptist School. One participant suggested the IAF combine all the ideas to solve the problem.
Next year, said Berdichev, the students would work on designing a solar powered vehicle.