Ma’ayanot STEAM Students Compete in “Carp Tank” at Jewish Home at Rockleigh

You’ve seen the hit TV show Shark Tank, where budding entrepreneurs vie for the chance to bring their dreams to reality. Welcome to “Carp Tank,” an inaugural event in which Ma’ayanot STEAM entrepreneurs pitched their new inventions in front of a panel of judges at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh on Tuesday, May 8. (STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts & Math, a required course in 9th and 10th grade at Ma’ayanot, with elective options in 11th and 12th grade.)

Carp Tank was the culmination of a year-long project in which the students visited residents of the Jewish Home throughout the year, discussed their needs and different abilities, and created new, innovative devices for senior citizens in the school’s state-of-the-art Makerspace. At Carp Tank, seven teams of young entrepreneurs presented their capstone projects and market research in Shark-Tank style presentations in front of the judges and an audience of residents of the Jewish Home. Electric energy filled the room, which was decorated with an under-the-sea theme. Shark Tank music introduced each team of contestants.

“The beauty of Carp Tank is that it encompasses entrepreneurship, young women in STEAM, community service, and meaningful intergenerational relationships,” said Mrs. Sunni Herman, Executive Vice President of the Jewish Home.

Mrs. Gila Stein, Co-Director of STEAM at Ma’ayanot, told the residents, “You are the ones who shaped our nation and created the backbone of technology. Now our students can use the lessons of the past to create and innovate the technology of the future.”

The judges included Ma’ayanot’s associate principal, Mrs. Tamar Appel; Mrs. Wendy Feldstein, a Board member at the Jewish Home and Vice President of Design at Crestron Electronics; Ms. Shirley Peters, a resident at the Jewish Home; and Mrs. Michal Kaufman Gulko, an alumna of Ma’ayanot’s Class of 2001 and a graduate of MIT in Materials Engineering, who works at Bloomberg.

The audience applauded for Clap-22, a customized lamp that turns on or off, triggered by a person’s clap. Unlike similar devices on the market, Clap-22 can be customized based on the the strength of the consumer’s clap, and can be coded to light up colorful LEDs . In researching their product, the inventors–Shevi Glaser, Ora Hochberg, Tova Kaplan, and Rachel Landesman–bonded with a Jewish Home resident named Barbara, who is an artist. The students gave Barbara the opportunity to decorate the lamp with flowers, butterflies, and glitter.

Sheindl Berger, Lieba Joran, and Eliora Kruman presented a device called “Press Yes,” with large red, yellow, and green buttons that allow a person who has difficulty communicating to respond to questions with a simple “Yes, No, or I Don’t Know.” The girls explained that their device has many advantages over a more complicated and expensive electronic communication board, particularly for individuals with cognitive or speech deficits. Judge Shirley Peters was so impressed that she asked the students, “Why hasn’t anything like this been invented before?”

The winning invention was Piano PT, a piano with weighted keys that can be used for physical therapy, invented by Daniella Shlagbaum, Tzivia Major, Hannah Samuel, and Atara Weil. Miriam Fisch won an award for her winning essay about the Jewish Home experience. All agreed that the presentations were extremely professional.

Mr. Aryeh Tiefenbrunn, the teacher who oversaw the program over the course of the year, said, “The process of watching these students empathize, design, and ultimately produce working prototypes to address the day to day challenges of these residents has been very impressive and very rewarding to watch.”

“We are so proud of our students who worked diligently and collaboratively to make their ideas come to fruition,” said Mrs. Stein. “We also appreciate the efforts of our STEAM team–Mrs. Orly Nadler, Mr. Aryeh Tiefenbrunn, Mrs. Gillian Cofnas, Mrs. Reyce Krause, and Dr. Duncan Bell– and the staff at the Jewish Home who created such a beautiful partnership.”

Carp Tank is part of the “Better Together” program, made possible by a generous two-year grant from the Legacy Heritage Fund. Better Together as an initiative that encourages intergenerational relationships among Jewish students and senior citizens. As Mrs. Feldstein, a Carp Tank judge, commented, “What impressed me most was the empathy that the girls displayed for the residents.”