City notes 324650

Technion researchers building mathematical model to protect coral reefs.

Technion University (photo credit: Courtesy)
Technion University
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Researchers from Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are working on building a mathematical model capable of predicting the flow in coral reefs, in a bid to protect the underwater environment. The initiative began after a container seized at Ashdod Port was found to be carrying hundreds of coral skeletons that were smuggled from the Far East.
Prof Uri Shavit, of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Technion, is leading the research team in studying flow processes at the Coral Reef in Eilat, and examining their consequences and contamination mechanisms, including nutrient supply and photosynthesis.
Shavit specializes in “fluid mechanics” and investigates flow processes in nature, in order to use them in constructing mathematical models capable of predicting different environmental mechanisms.
“Fluid mechanics is an engineering-scientific field that focuses on the analysis and prediction of the velocity field of complex flow phenomena,” he explained.
“There is practically no environmental phenomenon that isn’t dependent on flow processes – starting from water and land pollution, through weather forecasting and global warming. Flows in microscopic systems and the role of flow in natural biophysical interactions are new areas being investigated in leading universities around the world,” he elaborated.
The coral skeletons, which after being seized at Ashdod Port were transported to the Technion by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, were used by Shavit’s research team to investigate reef flow and enabled the construction of a platform for studying flows in complex environments. The model was built at the Flow Measurement Laboratory at the Technion, and was recently tested on the bed of the Red Sea facing the Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences (IUI). The study is being conducted in collaboration with Prof.
Roi Holzman of Tel Aviv University and Prof. Amatzia Genin of the Hebrew University, and is funded by the Israel Science Foundation.
“We chose to focus on corals, because they are stationary creatures whose needs for food and nutrients are supplied by the ocean currents,” said Shavit.
The Technion researchers, together with researchers from the IUI in Eilat, built a model of a coral reef on the seabed. They sank the model near the shore, at a depth of five meters, and took nighttime flow measurements with the aid of volunteers and scuba divers. The team is now analyzing the flow model, with the intention of building mathematical tools to predict flow movements around complex geometrical surroundings.
“The Inter-University Institute in Eilat is the only place in the world where it would have been possible for us to perform such a study,” Shavit stressed. “The interdisciplinary cooperation among the different disciplines, which includes engineering, biology and physics, enables the advancement of marine research, improves the understanding of processes that control the system, protects the natural environment, reduces the harmful effect of pollutants and creates a healthier living environment for human beings.”
Teachers and caregivers receive first aid training
The emergency medical organization United Hatzalah is providing hundreds of kindergarten teachers and caregivers across the preschool education network Neot Margalit with first aid training. Neot Margalit operates hundreds of daycare centers and nurseries throughout the country, from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat.
The lifesaving courses will be led by qualified instructors from United Hatzalah. The teachers and caregivers will acquire practical knowledge in administering first aid to preschool children and dealing with situations that are specific to preschool centers. They will also learn how to act in emergencies, including removing objects from a toddler’s respiratory tract, CPR and how to treat various injuries.
TA-Jaffa gives green light for bilingual nursery
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality has approved the opening of an intercultural and bilingual Hebrew- Arabic nursery in the heart of Jaffa, following intensive efforts to bring about such an institution by Hand in Hand: The Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel.
Hundreds of families from Jaffa and south Tel Aviv expressed their support for the initiative, which will be opened jointly by the municipality and the Education Ministry. The nursery will be run according to Hand in Hand’s model for bilingual education; the educational team will run activities in both languages with balanced attention to both cultures.
Members of the Hand in Hand community, both Arab and Jewish, initiated and spearheaded the process of establishing the first municipal educational institution of its kind in the city.
One of the leaders of the project, attorney Christina Hilou-Assad, described the approval of the nursery as “a dream come true.”
“The mixed texture of Jaffa has never before produced an educational partnership, and the time has come,” she said. “For my two older children it’s already too late, but my son, who was born in May of this year, will have the opportunity to be educated in the bilingual school through 12th grade. Praise the joint Arab-Jewish community that was established in the past year and a half. I am proud to be among the founders.”
Hand in Hand welcomed the municipality’s decision to approve the nursery, and on the location of a suitable building despite difficulties. “We are pleased that our efforts over the past year bore fruit, and we hope that we will be able to open at least one additional grade every school year, so that the nursery will quickly turn into a bilingual school – similar to those operated by Hand in Hand for over 14 years in Jerusalem, Wadi Ara and the Galilee,” said Hand in Hand’s Anat Yitzhaki.
Hand in Hand CEO Shuli Dichter added that the organization views the approval as a great success, and is working to establish frameworks for bilingual education wherever there are Jews and Arabs living in neighboring communities.
Petah Tikva pilot project: Bus stop libraries
A pilot project involving the installation of public libraries at bus stops was launched last week in Petah Tikva, with the support of Mayor Uri Ohad, municipality CEO Avi Ben-Hamo and project manager Zvi Harpaz, who initiated and promoted the idea.
The project was launched under the slogan “Take any book you want, give any book you want to share, that’s the whole story.” The libraries were set up at bus stops in the Hadar Hamoshavot neighborhood, and the team hopes to continue establishing the libraries at additional bus stops. Among the books shared at the first libraries are history books, thrillers and children’s books, from the bookshelves of Petah Tikva residents as well as from the mayor’s own expansive library.
“We opened the public library as part of an overall goal to encourage the culture of reading and its integration into the daily routine of Petah Tikva residents,” Ohad said. “Bus stops in our city center are busy. Thanks to this project, every resident and pupil will be able to enrich their knowledge on their way to and from school, and can even take the books home with our full confidence that they will return it so that someone else can also enjoy it.”
USNGO founder to donate bulletproof backpaCks to Ashkelon childrenAs the new school year begins, Ashkelon children are due to receive bulletproof backpacks, by way of a donation from the international broadcaster and founder of US NGO Israel Lives, Earl Cox. The backpacks, tested by HP White Laboratory, can apparently withstand the impact of a broad range of munitions – they contain a flexible armor insert which can stop bullets traveling at 2,150 feet per second, including the shards of shrapnel expelled from Kassam rockets upon impact.
In October 2012, Cox, together with the Shield of David executive director Bart Britt, presented 500 hundred of these backpacks to Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin. The initiative targets children living in areas lacking bomb shelters, or any other type of protection against rocket attacks from Gaza.
“Additional backpacks will be donated on September 29, 2013, in Ashkelon, as we continue our efforts to deliver protection from the terror-stricken areas near Gaza,” Cox said.
Cornerstone of international sports complex laid in Eilat
The cornerstone for an international sports complex in Eilat was laid last week by Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat and Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi. Other representatives from the ministry, the municipality and sport associations also attended the ceremony.
The complex will include a football stadium, five training fields, a multipurpose basketball court, gyms and a spa. The first phase of the project is expected to cost NIS 55 million.