Teen scientists show findings at president’s succa

At Peres's annual Open Succa, students in Future Scientists and Inventors program show off their discoveries.

Shoham Behar (left) and Joseph Mouallem (right) 370 (photo credit: Danielle Ziri)
Shoham Behar (left) and Joseph Mouallem (right) 370
(photo credit: Danielle Ziri)
“Trust the bubbles, they don’t lie,” said 16- year-old Itay Bloch, a student in the Future Scientists and Inventors program, to people gathered around his stand at the president’s annual Open Succa on Wednesday.
He and his fellow classmates have found a way to use soap bubbles to conduct things such as electricity between points – an idea that can be implemented for cheap electricity supply and other engineering purposes.
President Shimon Peres launched the Future Scientists and Inventors program in 2009 to target “highly talented pupils who are insufficiently challenged by the education system.” The four-year curriculum requires an exam, a love for science, and endless curiosity. Beginning in the eighth grade and running through the 12th, the program entails 20 weeks of classes each year in science, biotechnology, physics, electronics, robotics, biology, chemistry, aeronautics, nanotechnology and applied mathematics.
Classes take place at either Tel Aviv University or the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, but students come from across the country. During summer vacation, participants are also immersed in the industry and experience research work in professional labs.
“It’s really hard work, but it’s really worth it,” said Bloch. “It’s so much fun that finally there is a program like this for kids like me.”
His mother is happy to see him doing what he loves.
“He found himself here. He flourishes and he is having fun,” she said with a large smile. “He was bored in school, and very few teachers knew how to challenge him.”
Bloch has now stopped going to high school and is studying for his diploma at home.
A couple of meters across from Bloch’s stand, Shoham Behar and Joseph Mouallem, from the Haifa area, explained their findings, in English, to a couple of intrigued American tourists.
“Put your hands in the bowl!” Behar encouraged them, indicating the pink sand in a large bowl of water on the table. The sand had gone through a series of processes to make it hydrophobic, or averse to water. As a result, when the sand is pulled out of the bowl, it comes out completely dry and powdery.
“This can be used for other things than sand,” Mouallem made clear, “like for construction, so that water doesn’t ruin infrastructure.”
“They are going to do this for a living later,” said Adam Haisraeli, director of TAU’s youth programs. “There are a lot of people in universities, but nothing like these kids.”
Peres, who took the stand during the event, declared to the audience’s applause that “the biggest thing we have going on for us in Israel are the kids.”
Later, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz praised the country’s technological achievements and said that “the kids are our opportunity to touch the future.”
Haisraeli added that in preparation for the open house exhibition, the students had worked on their prototypes for a whole night.
The main rule for the event was not to come up with a prototype that had already been done, but to invent something of their own.
“At school, they are considered weird, but here, everyone is like them. They have an opportunity to make friends with people with whom they have things in common,” Haisraeli said.
To date, 80 teenagers study at the program in Tel Aviv University and 30 in the Technion. The program coordinators are aiming to expand it to other establishments.
Haisraeli said the IDF intelligence and technological units also acknowledge the students’ achievements, which he believes will lead to good placements for them when they begin their army service.