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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

YOFHS Israel STEM Trip Days 6 & 7

We are now in Haifa, which many consider the technology capital of Israel. We've met with so many different people and visited so many places, that it's hard to recount everything here, but I'll try.

We left the Inbal and our Chesed Mission friends yesterday morning and boarded the bus for our first stop - G-Nius Industries. This is the company that programs and produces the unmanned vehicles that help protect the soldiers and, in turn, the people of Israel. We were fortunate to have Mark and Rena Goldstein along for the morning who shared our fascination for this most critical of industries. We watched videos that showed what the vehicles can do, which even includes the ability to demand an unknown intruder to show his ID to the camera for verification. We then were shown the actual vehicles but because of security, were not allowed to take photographs. You can check out a You-tube here

After G-nius, we went to visit MiLab - media invention labs. This is located in IDC college in Herzliya. Our guide (a graduate student), explained the main types of inventions that have been produced - mostly apps based on human needs, or robots that respond to human emotion.

We ended the day at the Technion Institute where we learned about the two most recent nobel prize winning discoveries - Ubiquitin - a protein found in all cells, and the most recent award in chemistry for the discovery of "quasicrystals." Because of the upcoming elections (and vacation day) we did not have the opportunity to visit labs, but still came away with an appreciation of the importance of this excellent school. Many of us asked to be included on their email list so we can keep up with the important activities taking place there. Students also were interested in opportunities to intern or study at the Technion after high school, or even after college.

Day 7 (I can't believe we're coming to the end of our trip!) was Election Day in Israel. Schools and businesses were closed, but there was still lots to take in and do. We started at the ancient and historic city of Akko, touring some of the tunnels, and hearing about the British prison there. It was another beautiful day, and we ate our lunch on the plaza overlooking the Meditteranian Sea. Our next stop was to visit Steve Rhodes, the CEO of the start-up incubator company Trendlines in Misgav. They specialize in biotech and green technology industries and hear 450 potential start-up ideas a year. Of these, they fund around 7-8 per year and are now 50% owners of around 60 new companies, all in various stages of production. It was exciting to hear about and see the inventions Trendlines has funded. We were also impressed by their business model, which I'm sure that any of our students will be happy to share with you when we get back to school.

From there we went "Jeeping" in the Galilee near Carmiel, going up and down the hilly terrain there. We stopped for a short climb to a lovely waterfall and to admire the beautiful country that is Israel.

We ended our day with our guide Muki explaining the Israeli political system, the major parties and players, and finally what the results might mean.

So, we're off to bed - knowing that tomorrow will be the last day of this truly wonderful experience in Israel. We are grateful to be a part of the Yeshivah of Flatbush and know that it is because of the enthusiastic support of its administration and parents that this dream trip has become a reality.