A design for a fictional city that uses disparities in ocean temperature to produce and use alternative energy netted a regional title for an Islip Middle School team.
Chris Lopez, Jack Morissey, Kenny Ortega and alternate Gavin Boyd triumphed over more than 30 teams from the tri-state area to win the regional level of National Engineers Week Future City Competition. This year's theme, "Fueling Your Future," challenged students to devise a city infrastructure that runs off alternative energy sources.
Islip's city was Koosbare Oseaan -- which translates to "Precious Ocean" in Afrikaans -- in Namibia and employed a process called ocean thermal energy conversion to use the temperature differences in deep and shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean to generate energy.
The team next heads to the national competition Feb. 17-22 in Washington, D.C. "These students are incredibly motivated," said Islip's EXCEL Program coordinator Julia Johnson. "They weren't more intelligent than the other teams -- they worked harder. They gave up every lunch period since the first day of school, and we've eaten together."
To compete, each team used SimCity 4 Deluxe software to create a pseudo-city, wrote a 500-word essay and built a model using recycled materials that cost less than $100. They presented their designs to a panel of judges in Manhattan.
"Blue is the new green," said Ortega, citing the team's use of the ocean to be eco-friendly. Of the team's chances at the national level, he said: "We know it's going to be even tougher, but we are pretty confident."
'No Small Potatoes!'
Bay Shore school district students learned the importance of eating fresh local food last month during a showcase of a district pilot program to bring potatoes from local farms to cafeterias.
The high school's Food and Career Gourmet Club prepared mini-potatoes from East End farms during lunch periods and served them to peers and Eastern Suffolk BOCES representatives. Brook Avenue Elementary School pupils watched a DVD detailing the journey the potatoes had made from fields to schools.
The "No Small Potatoes!" program was initiated by district nutritional director Janet Skyler, who said she is expanding the program to about 20 other school districts.
PORT JEFF STATION
Breaking the silence
A group of students in Comsewogue High School's Anti-bullying Committee recently spread the word about the importance of preventing bullying by remaining silent for a full day of school and wearing black T-shirts with the word "victim" spelled out, using tape. The event was designed to illustrate the frequency with which bullying occurs in the world.
Elsewhere, JFK Middle School students have been using Skype to communicate with 40 underprivileged children in Haiti. They also have mailed backpacks, teddy bears and other items to the kids through the Sag Harbor-based nonprofit Wings Over Haiti.
MLK Day events
Dozens of Suffolk County schools educated students on the importance of tolerance last month through various programs held in conjunction with the national holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
In Babylon Memorial Grade School students wrote about what they thought would be inside brown and white eggs before cracking them into a bowl and learning that they are the same inside -- just like people. Children also read Mem Fox's children's book "Whoever You Are," which highlights the similarities of kids worldwide.
In Smithtown, Branch Brook Elementary School held an assembly in which children sang several peace-themed songs and recited poetry and excerpts from King's speeches.
In Elwood, Boyd Intermediate School shared photos and audio of King at an assembly.
Science Open House
More than 550 high schoolers from Long Island and New York City participated last month in the 2012 Science Open House at Stony Brook University's Garcia Center. The event was designed to introduce teens to the latest technologies, research and career options in nanotechnology, polymers and materials science, through hands-on demonstrations and laboratory tours.
The event's presenters included representatives from Brookhaven National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and the New York City medical examiner's office.
"The Science Open House demonstrates the wonders of science to high school students and the positive effects it has in shaping society," said Miriam Rafailovich, a distinguished professor of materials science at Stony Brook University.