STEAM Achievements at Calgary Halpern Akiva Academy

By Halpern Akiva Academy staff

(AJNews) – Calgary Halpern Akiva Academy is very proud to celebrate the success of our Len and Faigel Shapiro STEAM Program this year! In spite of the limitations of COVID, our students were able to excel in all areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).

This month, our Junior High students displayed excellent achievements in Math and Science with two Grade Nine Students scoring in the top 25th percentile in the Canadian Computing Competition Junior Division and one scoring in the top 25 percent of contestants in the Pascal Math Contest.

Halpern Akiva Academy also hosted a virtual Science Fair, with eight contestants moving on to the Calgary Youth Science Fair. Our incredible young engineers and scientists were able to secure three gold medals, two silver medals, one bronze and two honourable mentions. Additionally during further judging rounds Zack Rajesky in Grade 6 won the CYSF Elementary Life Science/Medical award, Joseph Kostousov won the Ted Rogers Innovation Award and Samuel Kostousov won three awards: the CYSF Travel Award, the Hunter Centre Overall Consumer award and the Queens University Applied Science Prize and was chosen to represent Calgary at the Canada Wide Science Fair.

Grade 6 student Zack Rajesky

In an interview, Zack Rajesky said that in his project, he tested 5 medicine flavours to see which flavour was the best (ie most preferred) depending on age and gender. He determined that chocolate was the best flavour for everyone, adults, kids, boys and girls.

When asked what inspired him to choose this topic, Zack responded, “I like to volunteer at my dad’s pharmacy and I wanted to see what people would choose because when someone gets medicine they have a choice to get a flavour and everyone usually asks: ‘what do you recommend?’  So I wanted to test to know what flavour we should recommend and see what actually is the best.”

Zack believes that his project will help people, “because researchers have studied that 90% of kids that don’t take their medicine don’t take it because it doesn’t taste good. Now if we know what medicine flavour we should use, maybe more kids will take their medicine and start getting better.

To expand on his project, Zack said, “If I could work on it more I would add more age groups, not just adults and kids but maybe a 3-10 years old group and then a 12 -18 years old group and more.”

In an interview, Samuel Kostousov said that his goal was to create an affordable way for people who are sight deprived to be able to read books. “Normal printed Braille books are very expensive and Braille e-readers currently cost about $4000, about 30 times more than a regular ereader,” he explained. “I wanted to find an affordable way for sight deprived individuals to be able to enjoy books. My design cost about $500 which is a fraction of the normal cost.”

His design utilized the forces of magnetism to display braille, one pin of a character having a top and bottom platform. The bottom platform rotates in half circles and both platforms have 2 magnets facing opposite directions. When the bottom platform does a half circle the two platforms come together and with another half turn, they repel. This system allows the braille display to conserve energy, only needing power when switching to a new fragment of text.

When asked what inspired him, Samuel said, “Torah values including Love your Neighbour and Gratitude have been taught throughout my Jewish education at Halpern Akiva Academy. We are constantly taught to care about others and appreciate what we have and recognize that there are others who are not as fortunate. I thought it was a great way to help people who were not given the same ability as I have and were not able to see as well as we do. In general I see reading as one of the main ways we acquire knowledge and pass it from generation to generation and that small sector of blind individuals is falling behind and the gap is widening as they do not have access to the same knowledge and resources that seeing individuals have.

“We can assist in closing that gap by offering affordable access to resources and knowledge.”

To expand on the project, Samuel said, “Currently I have displayed the technology on one Braille pin. Given more time I would try to display at least a character and also scale down the size to make it resemble a normal Braille pin as closely as possible. I would also have a blind person test it and give me feedback.”

Samuel believes that one of the main focuses of innovation in general should be “on catching-up people in society who are not as fortunate, instead of focusing on moving forward those who are already have access to many resources and opportunities.”

In Technology, Engineering and Art, our 3D printer was very active printing student designed logo dreidels for Chanukah, and was used for Science and Art projects throughout the year. Our Akiva Broadcast Network (ABN) was able to proceed with personal microphones and proper distancing and PPE to allow for the safe broadcast of weekly school happenings. Art projects included backdrops for ABN, Chanukah and Purim cards to the community.

This year, we also successfully launched the BrightMinds Math program in partnership with Renert Math. This program is changing the way our students approach math problems, encouraging mental math, critical thinking and self-directed math discovery. We are seeing immense progress among our Elementary students and are excited to see the program grow!

Click here for more information about Calgary Halpern Akiva Academy.



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