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Stamford students win first place at engineering competition

STAMFORD – A team of students from Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy-Upper School was awarded first prize in the Seventh Annual CIJE (Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education) Innovation Day competition, held Sunday, May 19 at Bell Works in Holmdel, New Jersey. 

The Bi-Cultural high school sophomores – Ben Marcus, Gavin Rakitt and William Agababaev – took first place in the Yeshiva University Student Choice Award category for their invention, the Healthy Chicken Feeder. Three other Bi-Cultural teams also participated in the competition. The Bi-Cultural teens were among 1500 students, representing 44 high schools from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Texas, to take part in the event.

The annual Innovation Day competition is the culmination of a year of study using the CIJE-Tech High High School Engineering curriculum. As their capstone project, the students conceptualized, created, designed and engineered innovations in a multitude of areas, including scientific engineering, eldercare, arts, ecology, healthcare and assistive technology, and consumer products. 

At the Innovation Day event students had the opportunity to exhibit their projects and discuss the value of their inventions. The teams also came prepared with comprehensive business plans and pitches.

The winning Bi-Cultural entry – the Healthy Chicken Feeder – is a perfect example of the way in which students turned their knowledge into out-of-the-box inventions that have the potential to make the world a better place.

The Healthy Chicken Feeder solves a surprisingly serious problem related to raising chickens: avoiding overfeeding and obesity. Overfed chickens become obese, which in turn, causes their eggs to become fragile. The chickens themselves have reduced lifespans and are prone to disease. The Feeder uses laser diodes, software-controlled feed dispensing, opto-electronic sensors and a vacuum feed system to accurate dispense the optimum level of feed for a flock. Voila – healthier chickens.

“Their project shows creativity and in-depth knowledge of coding. It is a tour-de-force of electronic/mechanical design and assembly. It solves a little-known yet important problem, reduces food waste, and improves the productivity and health of our  feathered female friends,” explained William Berson who, together with Dr. Paul Castle, is co-teacher of the engineering class at BCHA-Upper School. 

Dr. Castle congratulated the students, noting that all their hard work paid off.

“You worked so hard and so creatively – and for so long,” he told all the budding engineers at BCHA-Upper School. “You showed great skill and perseverance. Kol Hakavod!”

CAP: Dr. Paul Castle with his award-winning Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy students (l to r) Ben Marcus, William Agababaev and Gavin Rakitt.

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