A team of three ninth-graders at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck is a national winner in the prestigious Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Awards Program. It won second place in the contest for teams in the seventh through ninth grades for a study on regenerating body parts.

The winners include two sisters, Ariella and Eliana Applebaum, whose parents are both physicians, and Elana Forman, whose parents are both lawyers.

Each student will receive a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond as well as a trip to Washington, D.C., where they are scheduled to meet congressional representatives and present their award-winning paper. In June, their names and pictures will appear on the Toshiba billboard in Times Square.

The girls were not told why they were being summoned from class on Wednesday morning. When they were informed that they were winners, they flushed with happiness, laughed excitedly, and hugged one another. (One murmured that, had she known, “I would have dressed up.”)

Then they were hugged by Phyllis Serfaty, science research coordinator; Gila Stein, chairman of the school’s science department; Rookie Billet, the school’s principal; and Ruth Wang Birnbaum, associate principal.

“We’re inordinately proud of you,” Billet told the students, “at such a tender age, to have won so important an award.”

Also present was Sergio Kawada, Toshiba vice president of corporate business planning.

The three girls are friends and live in Teaneck, near one another.

Ariella said she wants to be a surgeon – her parents, Eric and Sandy, are both allergists. She hopes to attend Princeton. Any hobbies? Softball.

Elana said she wants to do laboratory research. Her parents, both lawyers, are Etiel and Leanne. Hobbies? She plays the banjo. After Ma’ayanot, she hopes to attend Yale.

Eliana wants to become a plastic surgeon – to “help people with burns and other injuries.” Her choice of college: also Princeton. She has been dancing for 11 years – ballet – and has appeared in many school plays.

The contest was open to students in the United States and Canada in four categories: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. In each category were one first-prize winner and one second-prize winner. This year, there were 266 teams in K-3; 1,355 in 4-6; 1,799 in 7-9; and 1,131 in 10-12 – so the Ma’ayanot team won in the most competitive category.

In their paper, the students speculated on what might be the situation 20 years in the future, when human beings might be able to re-grow missing body parts the way lower forms of life (like salamanders) can. They read 48 different papers on the subject and interviewed an authority on regenerative biology. The paper’s abstract began: “From inflexible and semi-practical inventions to awe-inspiring robotic limbs, people have been attempting to replace limbs for centuries. RegenX injections reach beyond artificial limb replacement and develop a method for limb regeneration using an individual’s own tissues….”

The paper will soon be available on the school’s Website, www.maayanot.org.

This was the first year the school, which has 221 students, participated in the Toshiba contest, which has been held for 18 years.

Unlike the Intel (formerly Westinghouse) competition, the Toshiba contest doesn’t call for actual projects but for creative thinking.

The Toshiba contest is believed to be the world’s largest K-12 student science and technology competition.

Toshiba is a Japanese multinational conglomerate, headquartered in Tokyo. The company’s main business is in infrastructure, consumer products, and electronic devices and components.