The Young Scientists & Developers Competition
The Young Scientists & Developers Competition is part of the EU’s research and development program and is designed to encourage and promote cooperation between young scientists in Europe and in Israel and during the Intel-ISEF international competition in the United States. In Israel, the competition is initiated by the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. Approximately 70 youths from across the country compete.
Competition winners get to represent the State of Israel in international competitions, including the World Competition for Young Scientists and Developers, Intel ISEF Society for Science & the Public, and the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS). They also win academic scholarships for studying at Israeli institutions.
Future Scientists Center students who take part in these competitions win many prizes and accolades.
Here is a list of the competition’s 2017-2021 winners:
We are proud to congratulate the Future Scientists Center’s students who represented us – with great honor – at the 2021 Young Scientists and Developers competition, held online. Of the 220 projects presented this year, 52 projects in the fields of exact sciences, life sciences, engineering, nature sciences and mathematics, informatics, social sciences, and history made it to the final round. The young scientists and developers who participated in the competition were accompanied and guided by the competition’s academic staff. They poured much effort into their research projects and recently presented and were tested on them by a panel of over 20 judges made up of researchers, engineers, science professionals, and other industry experts. The judges selected the most original and innovative projects.
Click here to view a compilation of all the abstracts of the projects that made it through to the final round.
Second place winners:
Ariel Priel, Alpha Program, Weizmann Institute of Science
asteroid twins in the asteroid belt
Asteroids with a B spectral classification are suspected to contain water. The Osiris Rex space shuttle identified water on one of these asteroids, the asteroid knows as Bennu. In addition, the shuttle identified a surprising particle emission from the asteroid, one that is reminiscent of a comet’s behavior. It is possible that the particle emission is linked to the presence of ice on Bennu, as well as to its brittle structure (“a pile of gravel”) and its rapid rotation around itself, as expressed by its ball-like shape.
During the course of this study, I examined the prevalence of these asteroids’ existence. For this purpose, astronomical observations of 16 asteroids that were similar to Bennu with respect to their spectral classification were held from the Wise Observatory in the Negev.
I measured the change in these asteroids’ brightness to determine the length of their rotation, as well as their shape. I found that half of the asteroids took the form of a ball, similar to Bennu.
From studying the B-classified asteroids, I was able to determine that 1.5% of asteroid belt entities are comets that have finished emitting dust. The space shuttle’s encounters with additional B-classified asteroids will support this estimation.
Shira Klein, Alpha Program, Ariel University
Stabilization of a miniature satellite using magnets
A miniature satellite has a volume of 1 liter and a weight of 1 kilogram. When the satellite is released into outer space, it turns on its own axis. As such, to enable it to perform its role, there is a need for a stabilizing system capable of stopping the satellite from rotating.
During this research project, an algorithm was developed to stabilize a miniature satellite, based on varying polarity magnet-based stabilization control. The algorithm receives the satellite’s angular velocity as parameters; Planet Earth’s magnetic field direction and force, as well as the axes of the magnets located on the satellite. The algorithm calculates the optimal moment of the force required to stop the satellite at any given moment, from which it also tabulates the electric current flow and polarity required to activate each of the magnets. To illustrate the algorithm’s capabilities, code was written to simulate the dynamic equations representing the satellite’s motion, in accordance with those optimal magnetic forces tabulated by the algorithm. An animation package was added to the code, visually representing how the satellite slows to a stop.
The developed algorithm enables satellites to be stabilized efficiently and economically. The written simulation code can be used to study stabilization control methods, as well as to examine the influence of various sources on the satellite’s stabilization process. This project enables optimal stabilization control that is essential to inexpensive communication with Planet Earth, as well as precise photography, and the execution of astronomical measurements.
Tamar Meshorer, Alpha Program, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
A description of the nervous activity in the auditory cerebral cortex following the learning of auditory categories
Little is known about the limits of human beings’ abilities to learn auditory categories, or the process and chain reaction of processing said information by the auditory cortex (AC).
This study took place in two stages. In the first stage, the behavioral response of mice to various auditory stimuli was studied. It was found that the mice learned to generalize the rules of the learned categories, meaning that they engaged in a new auditory learning process. In the second stage, a link was examined between the frontal lobes (FC) and the AC.
The study’s hypothesis was that the learned auditory information, as expressed through the mice’s behavior, would emanate from the frontal auditory areas, and then translate into action. The goal of this study was to locate anatomical connections between the AC and FC – in mice. The findings point to the fact that the AC generally transmits information to the orbitofrontal cortex. In addition, it was found that the highest level of processing in the auditory processing hierarchy, TeA, sends more axons to the orbitofrontal cortex than other auditory stations.
The findings demonstrate how mice successfully learn to distinguish between two groups of stimuli, and that there is a link between the TeA and the FC. One can deduce that the TeA is important to the process of learning auditory categories, and can serve as a central processing station that mediates between the received stimuli and the animal’s behavioral response to said stimuli.
Third place winners:
Adam Jabar, Alpha Program, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
No clue how to translate these terms
Deep below the crust of the planet we call home, Earth, there is a mantle that no research has ever studied. In the upper part of that very mantle, chemical reactions that influence a variety of geological phenomena are taking place. One of the central reactions in this upper mantle is the melting reaction between the rocks, which comprise most of the mantle, and ecologit. The division of “trace elements” – their concentration as minerals divided by their concentration during the liquid state, teaches about the changes that take place in the system within which they are located.
The goal of this study is to calculate the distribution coefficients of various trace elements in the garnet mineral within the system and under conditions that simulate a depth of 180 kilometers. The study was formulated using a machine that simulates the conditions within the planet’s upper mantle. The elements’ concentrations were measured using advanced analytical tools. Finally, the trace elements’ division coefficients within the garnet mineral were calculated. Observation of the division coefficient and the liquid element in the experiment reveal no change to the unique rock formation. Findings from additional studies point to the conclusion that the response leads to the creation of a “natural barrier” between the rocks made from the orotofican mineral.
The findings of this study deepen and update our understanding of the response between in Planet Earth’s upper mantle.
Yahel Manor, Alpha Program, The Technion
Finding computerized hypotheses for continued fractions
Continued fractions are mathematical objects comprised of nested fractions; these objects can – and have – served as proof of the irrationality of constants, which were open mathematical problems. Today, many constants that may or may not be rational still exist.
This study saw he development of methods and algorithms that enable the identification of hypotheses that most efficiently involve continued fractions. The first algorithm is for the calculation of continued fractions using blocker-sized numbers (similar to how they are calculated using a computer). This algorithm is based on three different, dedicated techniques, and was found to be more efficient that the existing one. The second algorithm is an algorithm for identifying hypotheses linking continued fractions to mathematical constants. This algorithm is based on optimization methods, including gradient descent, and is the first of its kind to be based on these methods. I hope that it can serve as the first step towards a variety of new algorithms.
Naomi Snir, Idea Program, Tel Aviv University
Female representation on France’s Chartres Cathedral, and its link to female patronage and the Virgin’s Rite
Over the past few decades, research of the Middle Ages tended to focus on groups that had previously disappeared from researchers’ eyes, including women. Indeed, many new studies point to the special manner in which female images are portrayed on various objects at the Chartres cathedral in France, one of the standout creations of Gothic art. But why, in particular, does the Chartres cathedral contain so many representations of unique females, and why was it so central for women in the region?
This study seeks to answer the question by analyzing the objects with respect to their historical context. The analysis clearly demonstrates the influence of Maria’s Rite and the phenomenon of female patronage on the cathedral’s design. The women of the region influenced the representative content within the cathedral by funding the objects it houses; the ecclesiastical establishment, on the one hand, sought to deepen the female bond to the cathedral, as well as to Maria’s Rite. As such, it went as far as to fund unique representations directed at women.
This study paints a new picture of female activism and significant reciprocal relations between the church and women in the Middle Ages.
Omer Eyal, Alpha Program, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The first nickel aerogel: A catalyst on the way to green transportation
Aerogels are the lightest solid materials in the world. Their large surface area and high heat insulation and porous properties make them highly useful for many diverse industries. Metal aerogels were previously considered breakthrough materials possessing potential for green energy operations, but their development process is too expensive and complex, leading their usage to be limited.
During the study, the world’s first nickel aerogel was developed, through an easy and economical production process. The process started with the dripping of nickel nano-fibers floating in water into liquid nitrogen. The drops froze, creating a solid gel. The ice was replaced with dried liquid acetone to create the aerogel.
Attribution of the obtained nickel aerogel evidenced a porous yet uniform material with a very low concentration, high surface area, prominent magnetism, and high electrical conductivity. The combination of these properties with those already known to nickel, such as resistance to corrosion and hydrogenation, provide the aerogel with vast potential to serve as a chemical catalyst and important stepping stone on the way to green and efficient energy for vehicles.
Honorable mentions were won by:
Adam Bailey, Alpha Program, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Construction of a machine learning model for the prediction of developments in satellite galaxies
The quenching state is significant to the development of galaxies. Satellite Galaxies (SGs) are galaxies that surround a central, significantly larger galaxy. The characteristics and interactions of SGs with their surroundings make them an important research subject, with respect to understanding the galaxy’s structure, as well as with respect to understanding its surroundings.
The importance of this process leads one to ask the following questions: what factors influence the quenching process? Can machine learning be used to find said factors? Based on 118 examples of SGs from VELA cosmological simulations, dynamic systems including SGs over time were modeled using a dedicated software program – VIVID – that was developed in our lab. Taking the entire system into account, a number of characteristics were calculated: the shape of the galaxy, angular momentum, trajectory eccentricity, and more. Machine learning and modeling were applied to the selected characteristics, so as to help simulate the quenching process. The machine learning enabled the identification of three important characteristics for the simulation of the quenching process: trajectory eccentricity, the ratio of the masses between the central galaxy and the satellite, and the radius of the satellite galaxy. This study advances our knowledge on cosmology, and opens new doors to relevant research.
Adam Bransy, Alpha Program, Tel Aviv University
The influence of limiting the mitochondrial splitting process using mitoquinone on mitochondrial balance and cell mobility
Huntington Disease is a degenerative, genetic disorder that affects the nervous system and inhibits the patient’s motor, behavioral, and cognitive abilities. On a cellular level, the disease causes an arousal of the fission process, which, in turn, can adversely affect mitochondrial processes related to morphology (fission and fusion), and ravage the mechanism responsible for cellular migration. The Mito-Q antioxidant molecule can reduce the excess mitochondrial fission, and the Drp1 protein is the main cause of the fission process, which increases the rate of cellular migration.
To study the connection between the mitochondrial fission process and cellular migration, the influence of Mito-Q on the level of Drp1 protein in Huntington patients’ fibroblast cells was examined, by photographing the cells over a 24-hour period and using immuno-fluorescent dye. The findings point to a significant decrease on Drp1 levels, and a significant increase in migration rate parameters, following the addition of Mito-Q.
Namely, one can infer that there is a link between the cellular migration mechanism and the mitochondrial fission; a link that was previously unknown. By studying the link between those mechanisms that are involved in Huntington Disease, one can deepen one’s knowledge and develop treatment options.
Anjam Abu Rafa, Alpha Program, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
The contribution of transposons to genetic variations in wheat
Transposons are segments of DNA capable of moving from one place to another within the DNA. This characteristic is made possible thanks to the use of enzymes that enable motion.
This study examined genetic variations between two types of wheat – “Mother Wheat” and pasta wheat. Bioinformatics were used to compare the two types of wheat’s genomes. This, by amplifying unique sequences from each of the genomes using PCR and gel. Additionally, the MITE transposon in both genomes was monitored.
The findings indicate that the transposons do, indeed, contribute to the genetic variations between the two types of wheat. The transposons are also an integral part – and make up 45% of – the human genome. This indicates that researching transposons in various creations can shed additional light on genetic variations between people as well.
Niv Gurnevich, Alpha Program, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Not sure how to translate the terms in this one
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria serve as one of the most severe threats to public health… in the world. One of the leading solutions is the use of bacteriophages; viruses that attack bacteria. A number of Western countries, including Israel, are home to several lifesaving treatments that leverage phages. The phages are abundantly found in nature, but must be isolated to be used in treatments.
In this study, new phages were isolated against the Klebsiella penumoniae bacteria. In addition, the study involved the development of a new method called “smart phages” that enables the scanning of large volumes of liquid to identify the presence of phages. This method allows for the increasing of the phages concentration in a sample by up to 1 million times, in comparison to the sample scanned using conventional approaches.
The phages that were isolated in this study could be used for therapeutic purposes in the near future. This, as part of the ongoing activities run by the new Israeli Phages Bank, in order to establish and expand phage-based therapies in Israel. Furthermore, the developed methods can soon be used to isolate never-before located phages against stubborn pathogen.
Ilay Katz, Alpha Program, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
New use of chemogenic-receptor medical blockers for the improvement of motor and cognitive abilities following head injury, and the understanding of the medical mechanism as a whole
In the aftermath of head injury, the brain experiences inflammatory activities that can last for months to even years. This inflammation harms motor, cognitive, and behavioral functioning. Despite the high prevalence rate of head injuries, they currently have no medical course of treatment. It is known that chemogenic receptors – CCR5 and CXCR4 – are linked to the activity and mobility of immune cells, as well as to neural activity in the brain. Plerixafor and Maraviroc are two medications (antagonists) hat block the above receptors. For this reason, they are used in treating AIDS, as well as in chemotherapy.
To better understand the mechanism behind these medications and examine whether they can also be used to treat head injury patients, the amount of immune cells in the brain and blood were examined in mice at two different points in time following head injury and medication use, using immunologist markers.
The findings demonstrate that both medications cause short-term reduction (just a few weeks) in the multiplication and increase in immune cells in the blood and brain, as a result of head injury. In addition, it was found that Plerixafor, as opposed to Maraviroc, has a longer effect, with respect to improving the penetration of the Blood-brain Barrier and decreasing the amount of microglia cells in the brain. Namely, one can infer that these medications could be used to support the treatment of people with head injuries. The results of this study create a foundation for further research on this subject.
Of the approximately 200 research projects focused on the exact sciences, life and environment sciences, engineering, nature sciences, mathematics, computer sciences, social sciences and history submitted this year, 41 made it through to the final stage of the competition. These projects’ abstracts are featured in this catalog. The young scientists and developers were guided and accompanied by the competition’s academic coordinator - Professor Gadi Glaser of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as by the Hebrew University’s Research Student staff, developers from Intel and staff from the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem.
Click here to view a compilation of all the abstracts of the projects that made it through to the final round.
We proudly congratulate our students who represented us at the 2020 Young Scientists and Developers Competition in Israel.
First place was awarded to:
Ori Sadan-Yarchi - an Alpha Program student at Ben Gurion University of the Negev
For his research on: “The Use of Galilean Geometry, Magnetic Fields and Late Heating with a Laser to Achieve Conditions for Ignition of Nuclear Fusion using a Confinement Approach.”
Noa Parisaltz, an Alpha Program student at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
For her research on: “The Effect of Pro Apoptotic Protein ARTS on the Death of Stem Cells in the Intestine Following Radiation.”
School: Levi Eshkol HaKfar Hayarok
Supervising teachers: Mr. Tzachi Rolnick, Dr. Inbal Tzarfati-Barad, Alpha Program
Academic advisor: Professor Dov Schwartz, The Campus for Nuclear Research
Competition advisor: Mr. Vitaly Lerner
“The Use of Galilean Geometry, Magnetic Fields and Late Heating with a Laser to Achieve Conditions for Ignition of Nuclear Fusion using a Confinement Approach.”
By 2050, the world will consume 2-3 times more energy than it does today. What’s more, existing energy sources such as coal and fuel will be depleted across the globe. Nuclear fusion is poised to resolve this issue, as it is a highly efficient approach, its energy sources are renewable, and it is even environmentally-friendly. Will the use of cylindrical geometry, magnetic fields and late heating using a laser enable the achievement of conditions for the ignition of nuclear fusion using an inertial confinement approach under similar or more lenient conditions than spherical geometry? For a nuclear fusion system in an adiabatic state that takes into account Bremsstrahlung radiation and heat conduction, an output equation was developed - one that expands to that state within which the magnetic field exists. In this study, we examined the cylindrical approach, with a focus on which conditions it prefers in relation to the spherical approach. It was found that there is achievable value in a magnetic field capable of bringing the system to the necessary ignition conditions.
School: Leo-Baeck Education Center, Haifa
Supervising teachers: Ms. Ruth Esh, Ms. Revital Katz-Padeh, Alpha Program
Academic advisors: Ms. El Koren, Professor Yaron Fuchs, The Technion, Haifa
Competition Advisor: Dr. Ilana Caspi
“The Effect of Pro Apoptotic Protein ARTS on the Death of Stem Cells in the Intestine Following Radiation.”
Apoptosis is a type of programmed cellular death (PCD) that takes place within the cell. It is a self-destruction mechanism that the cell enacts by activating several factors, under scrupulous supervision. It was found that the ARTS protein, found only in stem cells - cells with unlimited differentiation potential, encourages apoptosis. This study examined how a lack of the ARTS protein might influence the cellular death of stem cells in the intestine following radiation, as their purpose is to lead the cell to apoptosis. The experimental group included mice lacking the coded gene for the ARTS protein, while the control group consisted of regular mice. In both groups, stem cells and their daughter cells were marked, for monitoring purposes. The results showed that, following radiation, the mice lacking the ARTS protein exhibited significant increases in stem cells and supporting cells. What’s more, their intestines were healthier and better developed. The lack of the ARTS protein evidenced that there is better renewal, in the form of more daughter cells and increased differentiation of the stem cells. In addition, we observed a new phenomenon of additional stem cell population creation in uncharacteristic locations. The study’s findings contribute to a better understanding of the cellular death of stem cells in the intestine, as well as of the role of the ARTS protein. These findings serve as the foundation for the development of medications to inhibit the ARTS protein in human beings. Such a medication could lead to the intestine’s recovery and renewal in pathological states, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBD) and Cancer.
Second place was awarded to:
Daniel Kalmanzon - an Alpha Program student at Tel Aviv University for Youth
For his research on: “The Role of Parasites in T-A (Telangiectasis) Disease.”
Maya Arieli - an Alpha Program student at the Weizmann Institute of Science
For her research on: “Artificial Intelligence Simulation for the Coordination between Bots in Motion in Space Using Social Selection Theory.”
School: The Emek Harud Interdisciplinary School, Ein Harud Union
Supervising teachers: Ms. Ella Kedmi, Dr. Orni Marbaum Salant, Alpha Program
Academic advisor: Dr. Nimrod Talmon, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rechovot
Competition advisor: Ms. Nova Pandina
“Artificial Intelligence Simulation for the Coordination between Bots in Motion in Space Using Social Selection Theory.”
In this study, we developed a simulation that illustrates chases after targets in space, and coordinates between the autonomous agents running after a particular target. We asked - what scenario requires a minimal amount of steps before one of the agents reaches their target. During each stage of the simulation, we decided where each of the agents would be in the following stage. These decisions were sent to a control center, which tabulated a collective decision - the one that was ultimately enacted. The simulation was ended when the target was found by one of the agents. The agents and the control center had several possible courses of action and various integrations of these courses of action they could implement. Our findings prove that the most effective approach is bringing the closest agent to the target - to the target, and randomly moving the others about, while integrating the control center’s tabulations, based on the most certain decision of all the decisions reached by the various agents. These results prove that the most effective form of coordination is focusing on a single potential point between the symptoms, one that focuses on a certain location. This is more effective than coordination that spreads over a number of potential points. These results can be used in the future to make it more efficient for people to reach targets in space, like in the case of traveling via ambulance to treat injured people, coordinating between drones meant to locate drowning victims in the sea, etc.
School: The Hof Hasharon Join Education Center, Shfayim
Supervising teachers: Mr. Itzik Hoffman, Ms. Tal Katz, Alpha Program
Academic Advisor: Professor Ari Barzilay, Tel Aviv University
Competition Advisor: Ms. Shelly Friedman
“The Role of Parasites in T-A (Telangiectasis) Disease.”
Ataxia Telangiectasia is a genetic disease caused by damage to the ATM gene characterized by motor impairments sourced in the neurodegeneration of the cerebellum. Parasites are cells found around blood vessels. One of their roles is to maintain the blood vessels’ and Blood-Brain Barrier’s impermeability. We hypothesized that, with T-A, the parasites are harmed, causing an abnormal network of blood vessels, which leak and lead to neurodegeneration in the cerebellum.
In order to mimic the distribution of parasites throughout various regions of the cerebellum in laboratory mice with T-A, mice with fluorescent parasite markers were selected, and they were tested to determine how many parasites were present, and over which areas they were distributed. We found a significant decrease in the parasites’ distribution space in the model mice with T-A in both layers of the cerebellum, while the decrease in the number of parasites only decreased in the cerebellum’s granular layer. These findings serve as further proof of damage to the blood vessels in T-A patients, contributes to deeper understanding of the mechanism of this damage, and opens the doors towards future studies on this subject.
Honorable mentions went to:
Lauren Rayman, an Alpha Program student at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Youth
For her research on: “The Effect of Biological Clocks on the Penetration of the Blood-Brain Barrier, with a Focus on T Proteins.”
Itay Shufru, an Odyssey Program student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Youth
For his research on: “Discovering the Mapping for Triatomic Molecules.”
Noor Abu Alhija, an Alpha Program student at the Technion
For her research on: “The E12 Antibody’s Effect on Intracellular Activity in T+CD4 Cells and Macrophage Cells.”
Naama Shaffir, an Alpha Program student at Ben Gurion University of the Negev
For her research on: “Mapping the site of Ligand Connections for the Creation of Specific Connections between Proteins.”
Noor Abu Alhija
School: Mekif Kaukab Abu al-Hija, Kaukab Abu al-Hija
Supervising teachers: Ms. Hulud Mussa, Ms. Revital Katz-Padeh, Alpha Program
Academic advisor: Dr. Nasrin Lahud, Technion
Competition advisor: Dr. Ilana Caspi
“The E12 Antibody’s Effect on Intracellular Activity in T+CD4 Cells and Macrophage Cells.”
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a severe autoimmune disorder that attacks the body’s central nervous system. The E12 antibody, developed in the laboratory of Professor Natan Karine, links to immune cells (T and Macrophage cells) and transforms them from inflammatory cells (cells that encourage inflammation), involved in the development and deterioration of MS, into anti-inflammatory cells (cells that reign in the inflammation process). The goal of our study was to understand the intercellular action mechanism of the E12 antibody on T and Macrophage cells, with a focus on known phosphorylation trajectories. To do so, the Macrophage cells from mice’s stem cells and JURKUTS cells (a string of T cells from human sources) were defined in the presence and in the absence of the antibody. Phosphorylation levels were measured for ERK, STATS and MEK proteins. In addition, in order to examine whether the antibody is involved in the phosphorylation trajectory of other proteins, a Full Moon study was conducted on T cells sourced in the mice’s spleens, with and without the stimulation of the E12 antibody. It was found that the antibody is involved in the phosphorylation trajectories of various proteins, one being the activation trajectory of the STAT6 protein. Phosphorylation of the protein plays an important role in the release of cytokine IL-4, which is involved in the reduction of inflammation following infection, allergy or other autoimmune responses. Understanding the activation trajectories of these proteins will help our understanding of how the E12 antibody can serve as a potential medication and help mitigate the severity of autoimmune disorders, such as MS.
School: Liyada, the High School Adjacent to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Supervising teacher: Dr. Shira Hirsch, Alpha Program
Academic advisor: Dr. Eyal Ben-Zvi, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Competition advisor: Ms. Shelly Friedman
“The Effect of Biological Clocks on the Penetration of the Blood-Brain Barrier, with a Focus on T Proteins.”
Various organisms have their own circadian rhythms/clocks, which regulate various processes according to 24-hour daily cycles. A connection between damage to biological rhythms and neural pathogens has been identified, (for example) as a result of hyper penetration of the selective Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), which is not supposed to allow diffuse passage to substances through brain tissue (including medications destined for the brain), in order to maintain the stable environment critical to its functioning. This selection is enabled, in part, by Tight Junctions (TJ), which include proteins that affix the endothelial cells within the capillaries, including the ZO-1 and claudin-5 proteins. The goal of our study was to examine whether there is a change in the expression of coded genes for these proteins within the BBB of wild mice, at different times of the day - 8 AM and 8 PM. Our findings demonstrated that, with respect to the expression of claudin-5, there was a decrease between the morning and evening measurements, while the opposite was expressed with respect to ZO-1. The study, therefore, serves as the foundation for future studies on the mechanism within which this change takes place, in order to more efficiently time medication dosing for neural diseases, based on the understanding of this mechanism.
School: The Shaar Hanegev Joint Experimental Education Center, Shaar Hanegev
Supervising teachers: Ms. Rakefet Avni, Dr. Inbal Tzarfati-Barad, Alpha Program
Academic advisor: Dr. Niv Papu, The Department of Biochemistry, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Competition Advisor: Ms. Shelly Friedman
“Mapping the site of Ligand Connections for the Creation of Specific Connections between Proteins.”
The connection between proteins depends on the location of certain amino acids at the site of the connection, so that any change (mutation) within any one of them could potentially affect the properties of the connection. In this study, we developed an approach that quantifies the effect of these mutations on the protein’s connections, in order to create selective connections. The N-TIMP2 inhibitor was selected as a case study, and we built a genetic library containing a specific mutation at main positions within its connection interface. In addition, three proteins were selected for comparison purposes - 1,3,14 (MMP). The MMP proteins were defined with mutated inhibitors and sorted into subpopulations according to the force of their connections. Each inhibitor containing a mutation on one of its selected posts also received a score using the NF (normalized frequency) method, which was developed in order to calculate mutations’ affinities and selectivities. Hot/cold spots were found along the N-TIMP2’s genetic spectrum, as well as mutations with specific connections for each of the MMP proteins. This could potentially lead to the development of specific inhibitors for MMPs with cancer-like characteristics. Specific connections between proteins are motivators of biological responses in the body. It is possible that leveraging this method will enable the development of highly-targeted medications that act upon selected proteins, causing minimum side effects.
School: The Israel Arts & Sciences Academy, Jerusalem
Supervising teacher: Mr. Brand Saring
Academic advisor: Professor Daniel Strasser, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Competition advisor: Mr. Vitaly Lerner
“Discovering the Mapping for Triatomic Molecules.”
A Colombe explosion is one of the techniques used to research chemical responses at an atomical level, as it enables us to view the dynamics of a structure as it breaks down and creates chemical connections. In 2018, it was theoretically proven that the explosion of triatomic molecules of various geometric proportions lead to the same sort of explosion. This study focused on the discovery of the conditions for which the mapping of a tri-atomic molecule via Colombe explosion is unique. For this purpose, we used hyperspherical coordinates to describe the initial geometry of the molecule, as well as the Dalitz plot to describe the speed of the three pieces of the Colombe explosion. We examined which initial geometries have a similar Colombe explosion result, and which do not. After replicating the results from the existing literature with respect to exploding a triatomic (identical) system, we found that when the atoms have different masses, most geometries can obtain unique mapping. This result enables us to expand our use of the Colombe explosion method from a di-atomic molecule to a triatomic molecule.
We are proud to congratulate our students who, yet again, honorably represented us at the 2019 Young Scientists & Developers Competition in Israel.
Second place went to: Elias Elias, an Alpha Program student at the Technion - Israel Technology Institute, for his research on “Multiple Sclerosis: From Immunological Memory to Improved Symptoms.”
School: The Savior’s Monastery Greek Catholic School, NazarethSupervising teachers: Mr. Andreas Andreas, Ms. Revital Katz-Padeh, Alpha Program
Advisor: Professor Natah Karin, The Technion, Haifa
Competition Advisor: Mr. Yoav MaTov
Examination of the Impact of the E12 Antibody on the Creation of Memory Cells within the Immune System and its Ability to Cope with Disease
Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that causes immune system cells to attack neurons in the brain. The disease’s symptoms, as well as the damage to the cells themselves, come in “attack waves,” between which there are periods of relief. The immune system leaves memory cells in the body, which respond to the disease faster during experiences of secondary exposure, and help the body cope better. Regulatory Type 1 (TR1) T cells are a type of immune cell charged with controlling the immune response and preventing the immune system from attacking the body. Previous studies found that the E12 antibody inhibits the deterioration of Multiple Sclerosis by causing T cells to be differentiated as TR1 calls. Our study examined whether the cells induced by the E12 antibody would become memory cells capable of helping the body cope with the disease’s repeat attacks. Lab mice with Multiple Sclerosis were split up into several control groups, as well as a group that was treated with E12. We followed the development of the disease’s symptoms, and the TR1 cells themselves. The mice treated with the E12 exhibited reduced symptoms of the disease, as well as an increase in the relative amount of memory cells in their spinal cords. As such, it is evident that E12 causes T cells to differentiate into memory cells capable of suppressing future attacks. This discovery can serve as the foundation for future development of new medical protocols for Multiple Sclerosis.
Third place went to: Shir Sagi, a former Alpha and Odyssey Program student at Tel Aviv University for Youth, and a current Ascola Network member, for her research on: “Is Awareness A Requirement for the Execution of Semantic Integration?”
School: David Ben Gurion Educational Campus, Emek Hefer
Supervising teacher: Ms. Ariella Polonsky
Advisor: Dr. Liad Modrick, Tel Aviv University
Competition Advisor: Dr. Amichai Regbi
Is Awareness A Requirement for the Execution of Semantic Integration?
At any given moment, we engage in many integration processes. For example, if we see a person jump out of a plane with a sofa (as opposed to a parachute), we’d most likely think that we were witnessing a strange event. Why? Because, from a semantic perspective, skydiving and sofas are unrelated - a conclusion we reach thanks to a process called semantic integration. With respect to the study of awareness, a relevant question is whether one can perform or execute semantic integration without being aware of it and, if so - to what degree? The theories are divided - some claim that one cannot perform integrations in general, or semantic integration without awareness (such as the IIT and GNW theories), while others posit that it is possible (such as the YIC theory). In this study, we tried to answer the question of whether one can perform semantic integration without awareness. Namely, can our brain “understand” that there’s something strange about an image of a person skydiving with a sofa, without being aware of the image itself? For this purpose, participants viewed “ordinary” images (skydiving with a parachute) and “strange” images (skydiving with a sofa). The images were presented in a way that the participants were not aware of them, and it was examined whether there was a difference between their brain activity after viewing the “ordinary” image versus after viewing the “strange” image. No significant difference was found between the two types of images, strengthening the claim that awareness is needed in order to perform semantic integration.
Naftali Deutsch of the Alpha Program at Tel Aviv University for Youth, for his research on: “VIVID - A Tool for Three-dimensional Visualization of Galaxies.”
School: Liyada High School, the high school next to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Supervising teacher and advisor: Dr. Shira Hirsch, Alpha Program
Advisor: Mr. Tomer Nussbaum, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Competition advisors: Mr. Aharon Koolyk, Ms. Nova Pandina
Three-dimensional Representations of Cosmological Simulations
The analysis of galaxy simulations is a central part of cosmology research. Often, the researcher is faced with the challenge of understanding the data they are working with. This stems from the fact that the simulations are three-dimensional in nature, and do not make it easy for the researcher to understand the details of the simulation.
Throughout the course of our research, we developed the necessary tool, which we named VIVID. This tool enables the interactive observation of simulations in three dimensions. To resolve the issue pertaining to the visualization of relevant information, we used a Voronoi algorithm for the three-dimensional space. In this way, we were able to convert the simulation’s data (a point-cloud structure in standard simulations) for the body, formed of polygons and dots, which enables deeper understanding of the simulation and its shape in the three-dimensional space. VIVID was developed with two underlying principles in mind: (1) simplicity - it is up to the researcher to perform a minimum number of actions; (2) efficiency - the code should execute the task in the most efficient way.
While the code has yet to be finalized, we already used it to generate several models. Researchers at the Rokach Institute for Astrophysics experimented with these models and found that our three-dimensional result most certainly helps with understanding simulations, and even enables the identification of physical phenomena that cannot be discerned in two-dimensional representations.
Shachar Michov, an Alpha Program student at the Weizmann Institute of Science, for his research on: “The Use of HL60 Cells as a Model System for the Research of Human Neutrophils.”
School: Liyada, the high school next to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Supervising teacher: Ms. Orly Metzer Cahana
Advisor: Dr. Zvika Granot, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Competition advisor: Ms. Shelly Friedman
The Use of HL60 Cells as a Model System for the Research of Human Neutrophils
Neutrophils are the most common type of immune system cells found in the bloodstream, which are capable of killing pathogens by secreting hydrogen peroxide during the oxidative burst process. Since these cells are extremely short-lived, they cannot be grown into a culture and they are hard to manipulate genetically. The HL60 cell line is an immature leukemic cell line that is capable of differentiating into cells that are “like” neutrophils, basophils and monocytes. The goal of this study was to examine the possibility of using HL60 cells as a model system for researching human neutrophils. First, we examined the shape of the HL60 cells’ nuclei throughout the differentiation process and found that it matches the shape of the nucleus that presents in human neutrophils. We later examined the presence of the CD668 receptor, which serves as a specific indicator of mature human neutrophils and found that it is not expressed in HL60 cells, seemingly because they are cancerous cells. In addition, we found that the occurrence of the oxidative burst process and the functioning of CYBB, CYBA and NCF2 proteins are similar to those of differentiated HL60 cells and human neutrophils. The results demonstrate that HL60 cells are capable of serving as a reliable model for the research of human neutrophils.
The Noam Knafo Special Prize was awarded to: Tommy Weintraub, an Alpha Program student at the Weizmann Institute of Science, for his research on: “Using Machine Learning to Harmonize Chords.”
School: Pinchas Ayalon High School, Holon
Supervising teachers: Ms. Sivan Seren, Dr. Ronit Border, Dr. Orni Marbaum, Alpha Program
Advisor: Mr. Adam Haber, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot
Competition advisors: Mr. Vitaly Lerner, Ms. Nova Pandida
Producing Chords for Music using Machine Learning Algorithms
In music in general and in modern music in particular, chords serve as an essential part of the composition, and often even define the composition itself. That being said, writing the chords for music is a complex process that requires experience, intuition and time. Our research realized algorithms that automatically compose chords for music: Taking the notes into account (as a function of time), the algorithm composes chords (as a function of time), using machine learning. We compared them according to different variables and studied whether the chords produced by one of the sets is more pleasing to the human ear than those chords that were in the original composition.
Throughout the course of the study, we found that the Random Forest algorithm is preferred over the others examined (Support Vector Machine, Decision Trees, Gaussian, Naive Bayes), due to its ability to produce chords that most closely resemble the original ones.
Surprisingly, we showed how the process was successful, even if the algorithm is not exposed to information on the length of time relevant to the chords, but rather only about which chords appeared in each bar. In addition, only a relatively small amount of musical compositions is needed to complete the “training process.” And, even though the algorithm does make mistakes, the sample study we performed evidenced that people do not have a preference for the computerized chords over the original ones, except for in the case of certain songs. We hope that this study will enable new cooperations between man and computer in the field of music.
An honorable mention was awarded to: Gal Assaf, an Idea Program student at Tel Aviv University for Youth, for his research on: “The Influence of the Propaganda Dichotomy on the Success of Hitler’s Propaganda and Image.”
School: HaMoshava High School, Zichron Yaakov
Supervising teacher: Ms. Tal Katz, Idea Program
Advisors: Dr. Amit Vershitzky, Dr. Nana Ariel, Tel Aviv University
Competition advisor: Dr. Amichai Regbi
The Influence of the Propaganda Dichotomy on the Success of Hitler’s Propaganda and Image
Hitler, the all-powerful leader of Nazi Germany from 1933-1945 did not grow his public image overnight. Rather, his image developed over time, using deeply considered propaganda. This propaganda presented Hitler in the following ways: various posters portrayed Hitler the strong leader who elevated the German nation, but other posters presented him as a man of the people; accessible and altruistic, who fights on behalf of the nation he belongs to. There were billboards that presented Hitler as the successor of Germany’s previous fearless leaders, while others depicted Hitler as a revolutionary charged with destroying Germany as it was - a country that was eviscerated and had to sign a humiliating declaration of capitulation following the First World War. This evidences the existence of contradictions within the various representations of Hitler and Nazi propaganda. These contradictions are surprising, especially when considering the words of Joseph Goebbles, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, who claimed that effective propaganda repeats the same messages over and over again. If so, why do these contradictions exist? This study claims that the contradictions existed in order to help the German public identify with Hitler’s methods. In this way, the people were able to differentiate from one another, yet still connect to Hitler’s personality and facets, as presented in the propaganda. This propaganda transformed Hirler’s image into a dynamic personality that won the support of the German nation. Unlike other studies that presented the different aspects of Nazi propaganda, this study focused on the connections and contrasts between these aspects, as well as their contribution to the propaganda’s success.
Tal Blonder, an Alpha Program student at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Youth, for her research on: “A New Experimental Approach to Researching the Metasomatism of Peridotites within the Earth’s Mantle.”
School: Hartman High School for Girls, Jerusalem
Supervising teachers: Dr. Shira Hirsch, Alpha Program, Ms. Rakefet Anzi
Advisor: Mr. Oded Elazar, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Competition advisor: Mr. Kobi Schpund
A New Experimental Approach to Researching the Metasomatism of Peridotites within the Earth’s Mantle
The earth’s mantle is home to chemical reactions between rocks, which change the mineral composition (a metasomatic process) and influence a variety of geological phenomena. The goal of this study was to understand the results of the response between two mantle rocks under conditions of high pressure and temperature (1200 degrees Celsius, 4GPA), which simulate the conditions that exist at a depth of 120 kilometers. We examined the interaction between two mantle rocks: eclogites and peridotites. For the purpose of this study, we used a tool that simulates conditions of mixing that take place within the earth’s mantle at an inverse frequency of 15 minutes to enable maximum interaction. The results of this interaction were attributed by means of a laser tool and scanning electron microscope. The study found that the eclogite slice responded with the peridotite rock to create new minerale phases and a slice that is rich in magnesium, silica, potassium and water. The composition of this new slice was similar to that of Kimberlite Type 2 - a rock that emanates from the depth of the mantle and can contain diamonds. This simple study therefore sheds new light upon the creation of rocks within the earth’s mantle.
Ariel Brenner, an Alpha Program student at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for his research on: “Three-dimensional Printing of Hydrogels.”
School: Mejor Haim Yeshiva High School, Gush Etzion
Supervising teacher: Dr. Shira Hirsch, Alpha Program
Advisors: Dr. Doron Kam, Professor Shlomo Magdessi, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Competition advisor: Dr. Nir Visskoff
Three-dimensional Printing of Hydrogels Using A Combination of Nano-cellulose Particles
DIW is a printing technique based on the injection of ink layers on top of one another, on a moving surface, in line with the computerised three-dimensional model. The printing of hydrogel, a polymer than expands in water, is limited as the injected ink must stabilize satisfactorily as soon as it exits the syringe, and quickly become fixed in order to serve as the foundation for the next, incoming layer of ink. This study presents a solution to the aforementioned problem by combining nano-cellulose particles with the photoinitiator molecules found in the ink. The nano-cellulose particles provide the ink with low levels of viscosity while flowing, so that it can easily exit the printhead and harden on the printer’s surface. The photoinitiator can then use a radical polymer to affix each layer, under conditions of illumination. In addition, this study presents an examination of the ink’s properties and its ability to soak up the water, as well as the mechanical properties of the printed entities. These findings evidence the practicality of hydrogel printing that polymerizes via illumination using DIW printing, ahead of its integration in future systems.
Daniel Shapira, an Alpha Program student at The Hebrew University for Youth, for his research on: “Superconductivity Along Thin Strata.”
School: The Israeli High School for Sciences & Arts, Jerusalem
Supervising teacher & advisor: Dr. Shira Hirsch, Alpha Program
Advisor: Mr. Tom Dvir, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Competition advisor: Dr. Nir Vissokoff
The Lack of Angular Uniformity in the Influence of TAS2 Magnetic Fields
Van der Waals superconductors are materials composed of flattened atomic levels linked between themselves via Van der Waal connections. These materials have unique components such as, a significant lack of symmetry between the resting direction and the direction parallel to the atomic layers, as well as the behavior of the superconductor under low temperature conditions. In this study, I examined the influence of the magnetic field and its direction on the superconductor, and the energy gap of the tantalum disulfide type of Van der Waal material. I found that the superconductor responds in a significantly anisotropic manner with respect to the magnetic field, and its superconductivity survived within a magnetic field that was 20 times stronger in the direction that was parallel to the material, than in the perpendicular direction. I then calculated the distance between electron pairs within the material and demonstrated that one can derive that superconductivity within the substance is three-dimensional, so that a charge can be transmitted between its layers. These results expand our understanding of the superconductivity phenomenon and could possibly pave the way towards developments based on the aforesaid phenomenon, such as trains that hover over superconductor tracks.
For more research project abstracts, click here.
2018 Award Winners
First place was awarded to:
Ohad Avneri, an Alpha Program student at Tel Aviv University for Youth, for his research on: “An Elementary Solution for the Initial Digits in the ny2 + 2x = p Form.” Advisors: Mr. Mark Schusterman, Professor Lior Bari Sorker.
Itai Eden, an Alpha Program student at The Hebrew University for Youth for his research on: “Paleomagnetic Dating of a Mud-brick Wall in Tel Megiddo.” Advisor: Dr. Yael Albert. Research performed in the laboratory of Dr. Ron Shaer.
Second place was awarded to:
Hillel Shochat, an Alpha Program student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Youth for his research on: “The Development of Copper-based Ink for Electronic Printing.” Advisor: Mr. Yosef Faraj. Research performed in the laboratory of Professor Shlomo Magdessi.
Third place was awarded to:
Michael Keinan, an Alpha Program student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Youth for his research on: “Typing with Word Prediction for People with Paralysis.”
Dana Vankrat, an Alpha Program student at Tel Aviv University for Youth for her research on: “The Increased Efficiency of DNA Damage Correction Mechanisms in Astrocytes Exposed to High Concentrations of Oxygen.” Advisors: Dr. Ofen Bihari, Professor Eshel Ben Yaakov z”l and Laboratory Head, Professor Ari Barzilai.
Honorable mentions were awarded to:
Carmel Harpaz, an Alpha Program student at The Weizmann Institute of Science for her research on: “The Attribution of Variable Magnetic Fields in MRI Using Acoustic Profiles.” Advisor: Ms. Yasmin Geiger. Research performed in the laboratory of Dr. Asaf Tal.
Shacharit Pilzer, an Alpha Program student at The Hebrew University for Youth for her research on: The Attribution of Irregularities in the Functioning of Neural Mechanisms at the Basis of Premenstrual Syndrome.” Advisor: Ms. Rotem Dan. Research performed in the laboratory of Professor Gadi Goelman.
Click here to view the projects’ abstracts.
2017 Award Winners
First place was awarded to two of our students:
Rina Sabastianov, an Alpha Program student at Tel Aviv University, for her research on: “The Hybrid Self-construction of Two Hydrogel Peptides Possessing Exceptional Mechanical Properties.” Rina represented Israel at the World Intel Competition in Los Angeles, California.
Gonen Zimmerman, an Alpha Program student at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for his research on: “Orthogonal Polynomials and Two-dimensional נוואי Conditions.”
Honorable mentions were awarded to:
Tamir Roytman, an Alpha Program student at Tel Aviv University, for his research on: “The Transportation of Selective Medications Using Integrated Micelles.” Tamir Represented Israel at a seminar held in Germany.
Noa Fast and Sarit Sternberg, Alpha Program students at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for their research on: “Bacteriophages: Are They the ‘Iron Dome’ of Anthrax?