The Jusidman Science Center for Youth at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's robotics team, representing Israel, recently took fourth place in the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge held in Washington DC. The diverse team of seven 14-17 year olds from the Negev came in fourth out of 162 teams.
The competition was structured such that teams had to cooperate with other teams from other countries. Israel collaborated with Cameroon, Belarus, and Ghana, among others, and competed against Slovakia, Cyprus, Malawi, Benin, Colombia and Nigeria.
The competition's mission was to “clean" a polluted stream. The robot had to differentiate between blue and orange balls in a “river" and take the blue balls to the “reservoir" and the orange ones to the “lab" for testing. The students had received a closed kit from which to build the robot and were prohibited from adding anything to it.
The group was accompanied by two mentors, Aviad and Gilat Malka, who are graduates of BGU's Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The Jusidman Science Center for Youth is run by Dr. Tsiona Elkayam Cohen. The center coordinates all youth-related activities at BGU. The Center offers a variety of activities – from one-time programs to in-depth programs for gifted students. The center's educational philosophy is that quality science education encourages youth to pursue the sciences later in life, tie their future to academic studies at the University and to become role models in the community.