Tuesday, August 11, 2020

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. 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 Healthy Chicken Feeder solves a serious problem related to raising chickens: avoiding overfeeding and obesity. Overfed chickens become obese which causes their eggs to become fragile and makes the chickens prone to disease. The feeder uses laser diodes, software controlled feed dispensing, opto-electronic sensors and a vacuum feed system to accurately  dispense the optimum level of feed for a flock. 

“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!”

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