American Technion Society: Earth Day-themed Rube Goldberg Machine Wins Israeli Prize

BOCA RATON — Some Earth Day events involve volunteer clean-ups, planting flower beds or unplugging your gadgets for a day. The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology,

however, challenged high school students worldwide to build an Earth Day-themed Rube Goldberg Machine—and three schools came through with flying colors (all shades of green, of course).

For the uninitiated, a Rube Goldberg Machine is a wacky contraption that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task by setting off a comical chain reaction. Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida (whose team of students ranged from 9th through 11th grades), placed first in this fun but difficult challenge, winning a one-year full scholarship to the Technion.

“When I saw our school’s name appear on the screen, I was overcome with emotions of comradery and school spirit. Tens of hours of hard work had finally paid off,” said student Tani Loskove. Teammate Ty Kay added: “As a high schooler pursuing dreams of becoming an engineer, Technion’s Rube Goldberg Earth Day Challenge was a great stepping stone for me. It was my first real engineering project.”

“It taught me values like teamwork, collaboration and communication, and as the only girl on the team,” said Michal Amar, “it showed me the importance, and sometime difficulties, of making your voice heard.” Other students on the team include: Noah and Joshua Bernten and Max Davis.

Working out of a student’s garage, the winning team concocted a nearly one-minute chain reaction in which Coca Colabottles activated a toy car, sent a ball down a winding slide worthy of a Water Park, releasing liquid gallium to complete a circuit, which eventually set off a stream of water that spun a home-built Ferris wheel, knocked down popcorn boxes that activated a fan—illustrating recycling (plastic, metal and paper) and alternative energy sources (hydro, solar and wind power).

Some 24 high school teams around the world participated in the challenge. A team of judges led by Prof. Alon Wolf, Director of the Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab at the Technion’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, selected the winners based both on their creative renditions of Earth Day themes and the complexity of the energy transfers from one action to the next. Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam placed second, while the International Bilingual School at Hsinchu-Science-Park in Taiwan came in third.

“It’s very exciting for us,” says Dr. Yosef Wolf, who heads up Katz Yeshiva’s STEM courses and started a robotics club at the school (no relation to Prof. Wolf). “It’s the first engineering contest that we have ever entered, and we came in first place! We’ve been growing our engineering opportunities recently and we have plans to further expand our STEM offerings next year. This result has further helped to increase our students’ excitement of the upcoming initiatives.”

Note: the contest is not over yet! May 1st is the deadline for the Most Popular Clip Contest. Winners will be announced May 3rd.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology. The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute is a vital component of Cornell NYC Tech, and a model for graduate applied science education that is expected to transform New York City’s economy.

American Technion Society (ATS) donors provide critical support for the Technion —more than $2 billion since its inception in 1940. Based in New York City, the ATS and its supporters across the U.S. provide funds for scholarships, fellowships, faculty recruitment and chairs, research, buildings, laboratories, classrooms and dormitories, and more.

Jewish Women’s Foundation of SPBC Announced $100,000 in Grant Awards at Reception

Palm Beach — The Jewish Women’s Foundation (JWF) of South Palm Beach County announced their 2017 grant awards at their annual Granting Wishes Cocktail Reception on March 15, 2017 at Boca Rio Golf Club. More than 100 guests from throughout the Jewish community gathered for the announcement of $100,000 in this year’s grants, heard stories of those whose lives have been changed through JWF support, and shared an evening with award-winning author, Ellen Brazer.

The evening also included an abundant array of hors d’oeuvres, food stations, desserts and wine amid an elegant yet informal atmosphere. Granting Wishes Co-Chairs Hinda Bramnick, who also serves as Grants Chair, and Gina Lohmann, emceed the program.

“Over its fourteen years, our local JWF has now awarded nearly $1.2 million to fund programs that increase Jewish women’s and children’s abilities, education and independence locally and globally, in categories including education and leadership development, health and abuse prevention, economic security and legal reform,” said Bramnick. “For 2017, we have granted a total of $100,000 to eleven programs based locally, domestically and in Israel.”

Recapping the year’s grant cycle and outlining the progress and accomplishments of the 2016 recipient organizations, local JWF Chair Alice Kemper explained that the dollars JWF allocates are all donations from the more than 50 JWF donors, called Trustees. Each trustee contributes a minimum of $2,000 per year for at least five years, and 100% of these contributions are passed directly to the grantees. Then, JWF Trustees determine their grantees together, through a collaborative process, reviewing approximately 70 requests each year in a highly selective eight-month period.

Calling the Trustees “hands-on philanthropists,” Kemper explained, “What makes JWF different from other organizations, and the main reason our Trustees are so passionate, is because JWF gives each of us a voice and a vote with our philanthropic dollars. We know transformation requires action and we feel more connected to our community and Israel when we help to decide and select specifically where our charitable dollars will go.”

Introduced by Gina Lohmann, Ellen Brazer engaged the audience with her presentation and question/answer session. A recipient of Hadassah’s prestigious Myrtle Wreath Award – an award previously won by the late Maya Angelou, Brazer discussed her newest book, The Wondering Jew, My Journey into Judaism and shared insights into her personal journey as a writer and a Jewish woman. The guests were delighted to each receive a copy of the book as a gift for attending, and to have it personalized by the author.

For more information about the Jewish Women’s Foundation, please visit or contact Lisbeth Rock Cauff at 561.852.3188 or