Israeli Robotics Team Wins Award in Houston
An Israeli high school robotics team won the Engineering Inspiration Award at the FIRST World Championship in Houston on April 23. The team, Roboactive #2096, won for a record third time in a row, recognizing their outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school or organization and community. The team’s delegation included 33 high school students, 5 alumni who served as mentors, and 4 staff. They attribute their success to World ORT Kadima Mada’s STEM program, where they learned the skills needed to compete.
“We are so proud of our students and this unparalleled achievement,” said Dr. Moshe Leiba, World ORT Kadima Mada Chief Pedagogical and R&D Officer, who travelled with the team to Houston.
The students are from the Zinman school in Dimona, a small desert town located in southern Israel. Despite its distance from the thriving high-tech hub in central Israel, STEM has become a way of life in Dimona, which is now considered a Robotics capital, thanks to the World ORT Kadima Mada STEM program. FIRST Robotics Competition teams are active in 100% of Dimona schools, including special education and kindergarten programs.
“The robots are built for competition and have specific tasks to accomplish including moving, throwing and catching balls. It’s not only a robot. It’s the mechanics, the software (in Java), it’s the drivers, the community work and more. A vast range of skills are evaluated,” said Yoad Sin Haike Ohayon, the team’s driver and head of mechanics and manufacturing group. Yoad is in his senior year of high school and plans to continue his involvement as a mentor next year.
Members of the Roboactive team study high-level science courses as part of their formal curriculum. After school, they pursue their passion for robotics, engineering, and volunteering in community projects as part of World ORT Kadima Mada’s YOUniversity, an extra-curricular STEM enrichment program. Team members became involved at an early age, inspiring them to become the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurs, and engineers who help people through technology.
A special treat for the students was the warm welcome they received from the Houston Jewish Community including those from the Federation, who provided Kosher for Passover desserts for the group. They appreciated having the opportunity to hear from the teens as well as share experiences about being Jewish in Houston. The Israeli students also met a group of their peers from Cleveland, Ohio who quickly formed bonds of friendship with each other.
“I loved my time meeting with the Dimona students. Their vibrancy and energy was great to experience. I came away with the desire to connect more to World ORT in Israel, to go visit the students, and to build on the bonds formed. I hope the students saw we were thrilled to welcome them to Houston and will be thrilled to welcome them back in the future,” said Rachael Levy, a member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet and the Houston Jewish community.