April 13, 2024
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Two Ma’ayanot Students Present Winning Projects at Jerusalem Science Contest

Ma’ayanot students were two of the top five scorers in this year’s Jerusalem Science Contest, an international competition for high school juniors and seniors. Sonia Weiner (‘21) won first place, and Atara Weil (‘20) placed in the top five. Co-sponsored by the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) and Chicago’s Walder Science Center, the Jerusalem Science Contest requires students to study material equivalent to a college-level semester-long course, take eight exams on the chosen topic and its Judaic relevance and complete an independent research project. “If ever there was a time when we have seen the need for expertise in science and Torah values, it is now,” said the Walder Center’s Rabbi Heschel Weiner.

This year, the contest’s topic was neuroscience. On Monday, May 18, Weiner presented “Alcohol and Marijuana: Hippocampal Atrophy and Cognitive Impairment,” the project that, along with her exam scores, won her a first- place award of $1000, a trip to Israel and a full scholarship to JCT. Weiner said, “I am grateful for this opportunity to learn about the brain’s inner workings in conjunction with Torah. It gives me an appreciation of how complicated it is for a single neuron to transmit a signal.” Weil presented her research on depression as monoamine depletion and halachic attitudes toward mental illness.

Gillian Cofnas, Ma’ayanot science research coordinator, said, “I was very impressed by the thoroughness of their research and by their coherent and engaging presentations. The topics they chose were important and timely. I’m very proud of their tremendous accomplishments in achieving such high standings in this rigorous competition.” Principal Rivka Kahan added, “Sonia’s and Atara’s achievements in the Jerusalem Science Contest reflect enormous talent and dedication, and the kind of hard work and perseverance that enable great accomplishment in research. We are tremendously proud of them.”

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