Kadima Mada paves way for robotics champs


An Israeli school supported by Kadima Mada has won the world championship title at the largest open international robotics competition to be held in the United States.

The Misgav School’s stunning victory over more than 110 teams from China, Israel, Indonesia, Canada, Portugal, India, South Korea and the United States follows a strong showing in a national Israeli competition sponsored by Kadima Mada.

Five of the seven teams which Misgav entered into the Kadima Mada Israel competition finished in the top 10 which qualified them for the American contest. Of those, four won first place in their particular categories at the 17th annual Fire Fighting Home Robot Competition at the elite Trinity College in Connecticut. And Misgav teams took first, second and third places in the robotics Olympiad, which tested theoretical knowledge, which was also part of this week’s event. But it was the team comprising Eyal Shifman, Ram Gerassy, Yuval Zach-Zlica and Zur Shental who took the overall title thanks not only to the outstanding performance of their robot (named K.O.F., King of Falafel, in honour of the team’s favourite food) but also to their superb theoretical knowledge and the quality of the poster they produced explaining the design of their robot.
“We are very happy. The kids worked very hard and got a good result,”? said their coach, Haim Dribin, on their return to Israel.
Just as they did for the Kadima Mada Israel contest last month, which brought 40 teams from across the country to the Raanana Municipal Sports Hall, the Misgav students designed autonomous robots which could navigate a random maze simulating a four-room home to find a candle and extinguish it. The robots’ performance was judged by senior mechanics from the army and air force.
It is the second year running that Kadima Mada has sponsored the Israeli competition.
Kadima Mada Executive Director Rony Kalinsky said: “We realised that students did not have exciting projects to stimulate their interest in science and technology. So, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, we decided to sponsor this competition. I am delighted to say that it is attracting more and more entries, including from students exhibiting a broader range of ability and particularly from girls who are overcoming a cultural bias against their participation in science and technology.”?
The greater the popularity of the competition, the better prepared the qualifiers for the Trinity College contest are to compete against the world.
“The competition is very important,”? said Mr Dribin. “It’s good practise. A strong competition in Israel means we have a better chance of success internationally.”?
Although the competition is good fun for participants and spectators, there is a serious purpose to it.
“We have learned that the contribution of this competition to raising the achievements of science and technology students is very significant and constitutes an important phase in their preparation for academic study and all future areas of activity,”? said the founder of the Israeli competition, Dr Nadav Batzar.
It is a view shared by Mr Dribin: “They learn a lot during the building of the robots and they don’t mind working so hard and for so many hours. It’s very important to give them this opportunity for practical and experiential learning “モ theoretical learning is not enough.”?
This year’s victory in the United States is Misgav’s fourth in six years, an astonishing record which the school’s principal, Amir Michael, attributes to a winning combination of parents, pupils and teachers.
“Our technology teachers are the best I have seen in my life; they love their work, have real expertise and are proud to be at Misgav,”? Mr Michael said. “We also have very good students, many of them with parents who work in the high-tech sector. And the parents themselves are very appreciative of the work we do and support us. It is they who pay for their children to attend the American competition.”?
Despite the school’s high standards, both Mr Michael and Mr Dribin said that Kadima Mada’s contribution was crucial.
“We need Kadima Mada because the pupils and teachers are working in very poor conditions,”? Mr Michael said. “They have the spirit to succeed but that’s not enough “モ you need equipment, you have to teach in an appropriate environment. Kadima Mada is helping to improve conditions.”?
Mr Dribin added: “Our electronics and mechatronics laboratories are outmoded; it’s difficult to work with such equipment. With further investment from Kadima Mada we could do even better than we are now.”?