Start Up Nation

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The Boys Town Jerusalem Robotics Team, composed of 10 junior high students who have been eating, sleeping and breathing robotics for months, was awarded first prize for Robot Mechanical Design in the recent FLL‐Israel (“FIRST Lego League”) Robotics Competition. Boys Town led all Jerusalem schools in the regional competition, scoring sixth out of the top 36 schools selected for the contest.

“This champion robot started out as a box of hundreds of Lego pieces and several containers of electronic components and wires,” explained eighth‐grader Yehudah Neimark. “Our team worked for months to design and construct a robot whose speed,maneuverability and (artificial) intelligence could break records.” Boys Town Jerusalem’s first‐prize robot was cited by the FLL judges for its superior design, assembly and performance.

For the handpicked students on the Boys Town Jerusalem robotics team, mastering the knowledge of physics, electronics, math and computer programming that goes into practical robotics has become their passion. Their robotics studies are extracurricular, and these young men have spent up to seven hours each afternoon and evening in the school’s state‐of‐the‐art Judge David B. and Irma R. Follender Robotics Center, breathing life into their mechanical creations.

“All of the boys are exceptionally good students and very special people,”praised their advisor, electrical engineer Avishay Harel. “They’re thirsty for knowledge, and are top candidates to advance in Israel’s ‘start‐up nation’ of sophisticated hi‐tech.”

The FLL Contest was not merely a robotic battlefield, Harel stressed. “The theme ‘Nature’s Fury’ demanded that the contestants devise technological solutions to save lives in natural disasters.” The Boys Town team focused on rescuing victims trapped under the rubble of earthquakes and other disasters. The team created an innovative “life signal transmitter” in the form of a simple, inexpensive bracelet that can lead first responders to people who are buried alive. The bracelet, which includes a heartbeat sensor and personal ID data including blood type, is programmed to broadcast a signal to the rescue team via radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

For his part, advisor Avishay Harel is already gearing up to give the team intensive lessons in computer programming to prepare them for victory in the next round of contests, the Robots and Technology Competition. “In great part, we owe the prizes we win to all Boys Town supporters who have made our education possible,” Harel said. “We’re especially grateful to BTJ Chairman, Mr. Josh Weston, who initiated the school’s Robotics program and is also a founding sponsor of the FLL Competition. Thanks to the generosity of Boys Town Jerusalem supporters, our students are gaining knowledge for a lifetime.”

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