Yeroham teens win 2nd in int’l inventor competition

Chemical stick that breaks to keep picnic food cold was idea of team member’s grandmother.

Students FLL Global Innovation 390 (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevich)
Students FLL Global Innovation 390
(photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevich)
An idea by the grandmother of a 14-year-old yeshiva high school pupil from Yeroham – to design a “stick” that one could break to keep the contents of a picnic basket cool, by causing chemicals in the stick to mix and freeze – has won him and five of his friends second prize in a prestigious youth scientist competition in Washington.
It was the first time Israelis took part in the FLL Global Innovation competition, which focused this year on the field of food preservation and transshipment, and the six boys beat out 250 other teams.
The Yeroham youths – Tidhar Gaver, Eilon Ben-Hamu, Naftali Deutsch, Dvir Cohen, Eitam Aharon and Yedidya Freundlich, who have been friends since kindergarten – won $5,000 worth of consulting to design a prototype and find an investor who could register a patent.
The first prize went to a US team of pupils who designed a bar code glued on frozen meat or poultry that would detect whether the food had ever defrosted and been refrozen, and thus become dangerous to health. The first-place winners will get $250,000 worth of help in developing a commercial product.
Two weeks after their trip to Washington, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz received the six second-prize winners, who study at the Tzvia Yeshiva High School in Dimona, in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Gaver’s grandmother Hana had suggested the idea of a plastic stick involving two different chemicals mixing to create a chemical reaction that would cause the temperature to fall. She recalled seeing a dentist use something similar.
The boys worked on the idea and produced the FreezeStick, which did the job.
Gaver told The Jerusalem Post that the FreezeStick could have many uses, including medical and military ones.
As part of the FIRST international robotics competition, the Dimona yeshiva pupils had built a robot in a limited time and received praise for their achievement. They were then invited to develop an idea for the FLL competition According to Gaver, after the plastic stick breaks, two unnamed chemicals mix inside and freeze, reaching -5º C. In a closed container, they can keep food cool for six to eight hours, he said.
After entering the FLL competition, he and his friends were informed by phone from the US that they were among the top 10 winners and invited to the finals, where they received second prize.
The judges were senior experts in inventions and included the director of the US Patent Office, the director of the XPRIZE company that markets private flights to space, and Dean Kamen, who has 400 patents registered in his name, including that of the Segway.
The yeshiva high school pupils love their chemistry studies, an interest that stemmed from their participation in a Science and Technology Ministry-sponsored club in Yeroham. Experts from Perrigo, the town’s pharmaceutical company, assisted them in developing the FreezeStick.
“If the right tools are provided and the seeds are planted, the sky is the limit,” said Dr. Rahel Knoll, head of the Yeroham science center.
Herschkowitz said that the teens’ achievements showed that thinking outside the box could bring about a simple and good invention that nobody had thought of before. The contest winners, he said, “are the result of informal education for sciences in which the ministry invests a lot.”