‘Young engineers’ compete in environmental projects

Winners design program to control lights via iPhone.

ORT 311 (photo credit: Jerusalem Post staff)
ORT 311
(photo credit: Jerusalem Post staff)
The contestants might have been louder and more excited than your average engineering competition competitors – but these were high school seniors so a little noise was understandable. However, when it came time to explain their projects, these pupils were suddenly all business during the day of competition last week.
The Young Engineers competition of ORT Israel’s science-technology track of  brought together around 100 seniors from all over the country to the ORT Hermelin College of Engineering in Netanya, to pit their final projects one against the other. The final projects had to include scientific, technological and social justice elements.
The projects were judged based on five criteria: teamwork, exhibitingthe project, the survey of current solutions and defining the problem,originality, and implementation. The judges did not take off points forthose who did not manage to build a prototype.
Reading through the competition posters, it was clear the teams hadspent many months first on research, then on developing their idea.
The winning group designed a program to control one’s home appliancesand lights remotely via an iPhone. Ohad Ronen, who accepted the prizefor his group, told The Jerusalem Post right afterwards that it “feels good [to win]. It’s nice. It’s fun to be recognized for things that you’ve done.”
Two environmental projects received special notice as well.
Dimitri Laktiyonov and Nicole Kritzin tied for third place for theirSolar Disinfection Project. The two pupils from Moshe SharettComprehensive in Netanya built a system to purify drinking water basedon a simple scientific phenomenon – the UV rays from the sun purifywater over time.
However, since “you can’t leave a plastic bottle out in the sun forhours, we developed a drip system to separate the water into individualdrops. Then we built a set of reflectors to concentrate the sunlight,”Kritzin told the Post.
“By breaking the water into drops, the sun purifies it in a matter ofseconds,” Laktiyonov added. The prototype was constructed of everydaymaterials such as half a plastic water bottle and tinfoil-coveredreflectors.
The prize for crowd favorite went to Maya Krivada of Maxim Levy HighSchool in Lod for her smart watering system for private gardens. Thediminutive Krivada decided to focus on private gardens because largerareas already have efficient conservation oriented watering systems,she said.
Krivada developed a system of sensors and underground watering pipesgoing directly to the roots to minimize waste. The system would enablethe owner to decide which plants to plant where in the garden based onsoil conditions and then keep them constantly watered for maximumeffect. The system would also chart results over any length of time.
“I wanted to bring a planter to demonstrate but my school didn’t have the budget for it,” she said.
While none of the projects were intended to become industrial products,the idea was to give the pupils a taste of teamwork, problemidentification and problem solving, program founder and head of the ORTGoralnik Institute for enhancement of teaching and learning Dr. MeirFrishtman explained.
“Now, they’ll feel like they can do these kinds of things in the future,” he said.
Founded 10 years ago, the track takes elite pupils and teaches them thebasic proportional relationships that underlie science, Frishtman said.
Rather than forcing pupils to choose a specific scientific field earlyon in high school, these “analogies,” which hold true across manyscientific fields, were taught to give the pupils a taste of the entirescientific and technological spectrum, he explained.
Pupils can then get a jump-start on a technology job in the IDF andthen study at prestigious universities like the Technion-IsraelInstitute of Technology. It would only be at the university level thatthey’d have to specialize, he added.
This year the track was available in 20 schools and next year it will be available in 30, Frishtman said.