Jerusalem Science Contest 2020-21: Astronomy
Introductory Video: "Experience the Impact"
The Jerusalem Science Contest is an international competition for 11th and 12th grade Jewish high school students, interested in learning a cutting edge Science topic and its Judaic relevance. Participants study selected readings and video lectures, and compete through a series of 8 exams and a research project, with the opportunity to win prize money, a college scholarship, or even a trip to Israel! This year’s topic will be Astronomy, one of the most impactful sciences of our time! Explore space, orbital science, planets, stars, black holes and more! The contest work is regarded as a college level semester course, and participants completing all requirements will receive a certificate of completion to receive credit at accepting institutions. Research presentations from last year's winners can be viewed here.
JSC Participants and Alumni are invited to join Rabbi Weiner on his missions to view galaxies, nebulae, and clusters into the far reaches of the observable universe from the SLOOH.com telescopes in Chile and the Canary Islands. This is not a requirement for the contest but something fun to watch to get excited about Astronomy. To participate, visit The Astronomy Series, JSC SLOOH Zoom, and/or join the JSC Astronomy Explorers WhatsApp group.
How do I participate?
- To participate in the 2020-21 contest, click the button to sign up and register. Sign Up
- You will need a contest proctor (that we approve) that will be able to administer your exams (with academic integrity), and send the results back to us promptly. Many schools that have participated in the past already have a designated proctor. A proctor is typically a science teacher, or other school employee, and we are happy to help you find one if necessary. Proctors are paid for their time. Any proctors for the 2019-20 contest must fill out a proctor contact information form by clicking here. Proctor Form New proctors will receive a call from us for approval.
- The registration fee for the contest is $90. However, participants are welcome to take the first exam at no cost as a trial. The registration fee must be paid in full before taking the second exam and continuing in the contest. Please pay during registration. Pay Here
- The text for the contest readings must be purchased well before the contest begins in order to complete the required readings before each exam. The title of the book is "Astronomy: The Universe at a Glance" by Chaisson and McMillian, and can be found here.
- Once you have registered, found a proctor, and purchased the texts, you are all set. The schedule of readings, video lectures, and the project is available below, along with all other necessary details.
(Subject to Change)
09/01/20 Video Lectures Made Live
10/13/20 Sign Up Deadline*
10/19/20 Exam 1 Administered**
10/28/20 Late Registration Deadline
11/02/20 Registration Fee Due
11/02/20 Exam 2 Administered
11/09/20 Exam 3 Administered
11/16/20 Exam 4 Administered
11/23/20 Exam 5 Administered
11/30/20 Exam 6 Administered
12/07/20 Exam 7 Administered
12/10/20 Research Project Topic Due
01/04/21 Comprehensive Exam
1/25/21 Research Project Due
TBD Winners Announced
03/01/21 Award Presentations in Chicago for the Winners
*Participants signing up late will be charged a $25 late registration fee. Additionally, any participants who miss Exam 1 must make sure that they can complete the "late alternate version" of Exam 1 before the week that Exam 2 is administered.
** We modify the schedule of the exams slightly if necessary to allow participants for whom the contest falls right in the middle of the summer holidays complete the contest.
Science Materials Covered in Each Exam
Science Lecture 1
Reading Assignment 1:
pp. 4-15, 20-25 (skip "Snapshot 1-2", p. 15)
Science Lecture 2
Reading Assignment 2:
pp. 26-35, 40-45
Click here to see the slides for the Science Lecture 2
Science Lecture 3
Reading Assignment 3:
pp. 46-53, 58-65, 68-71
Click here to see the slides for the Science Lecture 3
Science Lecture 4
Reading Assignment 4:
pp. 76-87, 94-99, 102-103
Science Lecture 5
Reading Assignment 5: pp. 104-109, 120-123, 125 (skip first paragraph of p. 125), 136-138, 140-143 (skip "Snapshot 1-8", p. 143)
Click here to see the slides for the Science Lecture 5
Science Lecture 6
Reading Assignment 6: pp. 150-159, 162-163, 168-177
Click here to see the slides for Science Lectre 6
One Science lecture and one Judaic lecture are covered on each exam. For example, Exam 1 covers Science Lecture 1 and Judaic Lecture 1 with respective readings.
Judaic Materials Covered in Each Exam
Judaic Lecture 1: David Gans
Click here for the Reading Assignment for Judaic Lecture 1
Judaic Lecture 2: Kiddush Hachodesh
Click here for the Reading Assignment for Judaic Lecture 2
Judaic Lecture 3: Sighting New Moon
Click here for the Reading Assignment for Judaic Lecture 3
Judaic Lecture 4: Halachik Date Line 1
Click here for the Reading Assignment for Judaic Lecture 4
Judaic Lecture 5: Halachik Dateline 2
Click here for the Reading Assignment for Judaic Lecture 5
Judaic Lecture 6: Age of the Universe
Click here for the Reading Assignment for Judaic Lecture 6
Judaic Lecture 7: Judaism and ET Life
Reading Assignments for Judaic Lecture 7:
- Participants must check their email frequently for relevant and timely contest communications from email@example.com (make sure this address doesn’t go to spam). Any updates in scheduling or contest procedures will be emailed out, and participants will be immediately responsible to adhere to them. If a participant lacks email access, they can let us know well in advance and we will be happy to make other arrangements.
- The registration fee must be paid by no later than Monday, November 2, 2020. Anyone is welcome to try out this contest (including the first set of readings, the first video, and the first test) before this date free of charge. If the payment is not made by this date, the participant will be dropped from the contest. If a participant decides to not continue in the program after this point, the registration cannot be refunded.
- Before taking each test, participants will need to read the selected readings from the syllabus, watch two video lectures (Science and Judaic), and then be tested on them. The video lectures will be available on our website for participants to access, and can be mailed as a DVD to those who lack internet access (let us know well in advance if a DVD is preferred).
- Participants will be scored on a total of 7 tests, a comprehensive final exam, and a research project. A local proctor must administer each participant’s tests.
- Each test will count for 20 points, the comprehensive exam for 40 points, and the research project for 40 points. Each contestant will therefore earn up to 220 points, and the final point values will decide the standings of the winners.
- Participants must purchase the selected texts well before the contest begins so that they can complete their readings.
- It is vital not to wait until the last minute to complete any contest components (readings, videos, tests, and research). We make the materials available in advance so that participants can pace themselves and not get overwhelmed.
- All students who complete the contest and all its requirements receive a certificate and a letter of completion, which can be highlighted on a resume or a college application. Certain institutions have given credit for it as a semester Science course.
- Our office has limited weekday hours, so please be patient with email and phone response time.
Judaic Component to the Contest
The Judaic video lectures will train JSC participants to analyze Astronomy through a lens of Jewish values. In addition to information-filled Judaic video lectures focused on Astronomy, the participant will be mentored in the Judaic research skills employed by the lecturer. The participant will learn a step-by-step procedure useful in methodically searching for, evaluating, interpreting and presenting the Jewish issues present in science topics. The participants will use the skills learned through the contest’s Judaic section in formulating their final Science-Judaic research project.
- Each test consists of 20 questions (15 Science and 5 Judaic).
- Participants have up to 1 hour to complete each exam.
- No notes, books, computers, internet, phones, calculators (except for a basic scientific calculator like the TI-30 that has no input memory for notes), or any other resource will be allowed while taking the test. Only the test itself, a writing utensil, and scrap paper will be allowed.
- Participants must return the test and answer sheet to the proctor after each exam.
- The participants must take the exam within the week (no later than Friday) of the assigned test date. For example, the first test will be given to proctors on Mon 10/19/20, and the completed answer sheets must be submitted to us by the proctors no later than Friday 10/23/20. If there are extenuating circumstances, like a school break, that prevent the test from being taken that week, participants must contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an extension at least two weeks in advance (another test will have to be made).
- As soon as all copies of an individual test (for example, test #1) have been received and graded, the test versions along with their answers will be released and posted on our website or emailed out to participants to help review for the comprehensive exam.
- Students are not permitted to speak about exam questions with anyone (especially other contest participants and any proctors) until the exams have been released.
- Test questions can only be contested by email within one week from when the exam was released. In the rare event that there was an error in one of the questions, then the question will be regraded on each participant’s exam, and anyone that had the actual correct answer will be given the points for that question, however, points will not be subtracted from those who “had it correct” the first time. If there is a major flaw in one of the questions such that it must be scrapped, then each participant will receive the points for that question.
- The comprehensive final exam will cover material from all the readings and video lectures.
- A participant can be disqualified/dropped from the contest or given a score of zero on a test if any of these rules/guidelines (above or below) are not adhered to properly, if there is a lack of honesty/academic integrity, or for any reason we deem appropriate.
The Research Project
Participants will have approximately one month to complete their research project between the week of test 7 and the comprehensive final exam. However, the topic must be submitted and approved by email no later than 12/10/20. Each participant will choose a topic related to Astronomy, and develop a hypothesis, appropriate arguments, and evidence to support and/or reject their hypothesis. The topic itself must be researched, and put together in the form of an essay, a Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow, or a video presentation. The research project will be graded by two to four professional evaluators, and the mean value will determine a participant’s final score. The following is an outline of the rubric that will be used for a total of 40 points, and the full detailed rubric can be found below.
-(2) Title, Name, Spelling and Grammar
-(6) Introduction and Conclusion
-(15) Presentation of Project
-(7) Scientific Research
-(7) Judaic Connection
Updated rubric and documents were emailed out (the rubrics below will be updated shortly).
Detailed Rubric of Research Project:
To view lectures from previous years, click on the links below:
2018-19 Contest: www.walderlab.org/molecularbio
2017-18 Contest: www.walderlab.org/nanotechnology
- Any proctor for the 2020-21 contest must fill out the following proctor information form in advance: Proctor Form
- Any new proctors will be contacted by our staff for approval.
- Each proctor must be over eighteen years of age and unrelated to any of the students taking the Jerusalem Science Contest exams that they are proctoring.
- Proctors may not delegate test administration nor any other proctor responsibility to another person.
- If a proctor, school official or participant finds it necessary to add additional proctoring staff, they may not hire the additional staff themselves. Rather, the anticipated new proctor must fill out the information form and the Walder Science Center will contact them for approval.
- The Walder Science Center reserves the right of prior approval for the number of anticipated administrations at the participants' schools.
- For each testing week, the proctor will receive the test and a multiple choice answer sheet by email. They will be required to print out a paper copy of each and administer the test to participants with full academic integrity by the end of the week.
- Proctors must arrange a time that works for students to take each exam, and if there are multiple students at the same school, they should take the exam at the same time to prevent cheating and dishonesty.
- Unless there are extenuating circumstances, which should be clarified with the Jerusalem Science Contest administration, there should only be one proctor per school.
- Proctors should collect all the exams and answer keys from the students at the completion of each testing session.
- Proctors must then scan and email the filled in multiple choice answer sheets promptly to email@example.com or fax them to 866-449-7038.
- Please speak to us if in-person proctoring is not possible due to COVID-19 environment to discuss alternate options.
- Proctors must ensure that participants do not use any notes, books, computers, internet, phones, calculators (except for a basic scientific calculator like the TI-30 that has no input memory for notes), or any other resource besides the test itself, a writing utensil, and scrap paper. (Closed book testing conditions.) Also, participants are not allowed to talk with others while taking the exam, or to communicate information about the test during the exam or to someone who hasn’t taken it yet. Participants cannot share calculators with other participants during the test. The proctor is not allowed to assist participants during the exams or to help participants prepare for the exam once the proctor has seen the exam. Proctors must also space participants (taking an exam simultaneously) adequately to prevent cheating. Adjacent students must be given different test versions.
- If the proctor sees any such misconduct, or any other lack of honesty by participants during the test, or any other form of cheating, they must inform us immediately and the participant will receive a zero on that exam.
- Proctors will be paid for their time after the conclusion of the contest, for every test that is proctored and received by us promptly via email.
- Proctors must affirm the identities of students taking the exams at each testing session.
- Proctors are not considered agents of the Foundation for Learning Development or the Walder Science Center.
(prizes are subject to change based on funding)
- The 1st place finisher receives a $1,000 cash prize and a 4-Year JCT Lev Academic Center Tuition Scholarship. The 2nd place finisher receives a $700 cash prize. All other finishers may receive prize money based on their final score according to the list below.
- The 5 top finishers may win a trip to Israel. The 1st and 2nd place winners may receive BOTH the Israel trip AND their cash prize discussed above. Other participants who are offered to and chose to go on the Israel trip will not receive any prize money; the trip will be their only prize. Trip winners may opt to pass up the trip and receive instead their cash prize according to the table below. In the event of a tie for first or second place, the prize money for that place will be split evenly, and the next finisher will skip to the next place (in other words, for example, if two contestants tie for 1st place, the next finisher will be considered in 3rd place, NOT 2nd).
- For 215-220 total points, the gross prize will be $400.
For 208-214 total points, the gross prize will be $350.
For 199-207 total points, the gross prize will be $300.
For 190-198 total points, the gross prize will be $250.
For 181-189 total points, the gross prize will be $200.
For 168-180 total points, the gross prize will be $150.
For 151-167 total points, the gross prize will be $100.
For 130-150 total points, the gross prize will be $50.
- To be eligible to win the Israel trip, a participant must be currently enrolled in and in good standing with their school, and no school official or family member should have any concerns about the participant going on the trip. If there are any such concerns, the participant may not go on the trip. The amount of trip winners is subject to change, and we reserve the right to deny any participant the trip or prize money.
The 5 top finalists will be invited to present their research to the Chicago community on 3/01/21 at our annual Awards and Presentations Banquet. Each presentation must be 5 minutes long, and rehearsed with a proctor in advance. Additionally, each finalist will prepare a poster that we will print for the event, detailing their research, according to a template that we will provide. Additional information will be provided directly to the finalists.
Click here to see the research presentations and award ceremony from the winners of 2019-2020 contest on Neuroscience.
The Jerusalem Science Contest is a collaborative project between the Walder Science Center and the JCT Lev Academic Center - Mechon Lev.