HBHA Wins $2,500 Through Battle of the Brains


Elana Goldenberg


A team of third grade students at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy qualified as one of the top ten teams in a local science competition this fall called Battle of the Brains, an engineering and technology competition throughout Kansas City. The Burns & McDonnell Foundation and Science City are sponsoring partners for this local competition to create the best idea for a new exhibit at Science City. The winning group of students will earn the opportunity to create their exhibit with architects and engineers from Burns & McDonnell, a top engineering design firm headquartered in Kansas City.

    Under the guidance of Vickie Sisco, HBHA’s Gifted Education Facilitator, third grade students Aviva Clauer, Annie Fingersh, Judah Schuster, and Roman Katz worked together to propose an exhibit they would like to see at Science City. These students initially chose to make their exhibit about fountains because of their love of fountains and the abundance of them around Kansas City. After doing some research on water, they gained insight into the global lack of clean water. “We decided to have our exhibit because [clean water] is a big sustainability problem,” said Judah Schuster. “To help combat this problem, they have proposed an interactive exhibit called “One World One Well.”

     “One World One Well” was designed to educate Science City visitors on ideas about water conservation, water movement with the Archimedes’ screw and water sustainability. The Archimedes’ screw is a machine used to move water for purposes of irrigation.  The exhibit would have featured an interactive fountain, touchscreen games, and an opportunity to learn about the motion of water.

    The HBHA team submitted their proposal to the Burns and McDonnell Foundation in late Oct., and when they found out a few weeks later that their idea had been chosen as one of the top ten ideas in the elementary category, they were beyond thrilled. “We were really excited,” exclaimed Aviva Clauer. “I was wearing my mood ring and it was green, so I was really excited!”

Students, teachers, and families at HBHA, and members of the Kansas City Jewish community, voted online from Nov. 7th. through the 14th. Their overall score on the submission as determine by the contest judges, with the addition of the many online votes they received throughout the week, determined whether or not their exhibit was chosen for Science City.

    Competing in Battle of the Brains was an amazing experience for these young students. Teacher Vickie Sisco wanted her students to participate in Battle of the Brains because it “was really designed well.” She added, “I knew I had to do it with one of my classes and this group was doing evaluative thinking.” The students really enjoyed competing in Battle of the Brains, as well. When asked if they would want to participate in this competition again, all four students responded with an enthusiastic “yes!”

The third grade team of four, HBHA and the rest of Kansas City’s Jewish community discovered that the team received an honorable mention in the Battle of the Brains and earned $2,500 at the awards ceremony on  Nov. 20, 2013 at Union Station, Kansas City, Mo.