Mt Scopus shines in Weizmann Institute physics competition

March 28, 2009 by J-Wire
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Four year 12 students from Melbourne’s Mt Scopus school scored second prize in a world-wide physics competition hosted by Israel’s Weizmann Insitute.

From L: Alan Madden, Lenny Bloom, Mark Bloom and far rt Tomer Simovich

From L: Alan Madden, Lenny Bloom, Mark Bloom and far rt Tomer Simovich

The concept was straight-forward in principle and enormously demanding in execution. Design a glass-fronted safe with a locking mechanism based on techniques drawn from physics. Transport your team and the safe to the Institute…and try and crack open other competitors’ safes as they try to open yours! The competitors are given five minutes to demonstrate how they open theirs whilst they have ten minutes to try to open each of the others.

Mark Bloom, Lennie Bloom [no relation], Tomer Simovich and Shanaan Cohney made the quick trip to Israel with Scopus physics teacher Alan Madden.

Beaten into second place by Sloveni, Mt Scopus managed to open 8½ points out of a maximum of 10. No team managed to crack Mt Scopus’s safe.

Teacher Alan Madden told J-Wire: “What an amazing result! We beat Israel, the United States, the U.K. and forty three other countries.”

The boys took six months to design and build the safe…and the fruits of their labour produced a cash prize of 3000 shekels and physics equipment for the school.

Madden added: “As well as the safe-cracking exercise, the boys were also quizzed by Weizmann academics and did well on that score too. I believe at least three out of the four will specialise in the field of physics.”

The project introduced the students into the realm of team-work and attaining skills outside of physics as they had to build the safe by themselves even though some of the boys had never before wielded a hammer.

At work on the safe

At work on the safe

Madden, who was on his first ever trip to Israel said: “The boys benefited highly from interaction with other teams and with Weizmann staff who took them on a tour of the Institute’s main feature exhibits.”

Michal Shariv of the Weizmann Institute told J-Wire: “The Shalheveth Freier Prize is an annual event but this was the firt time a team from Australia has participated.”

The competition was not restricted to Jewish schools.

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