The autumn air brought a burst of learning opportunities to local classrooms.
Dozens of Long Island schools have used the season, apples, pumpkins and scarecrows in everything from math lessons to art activities.
In Elmont and Copiague, Stewart Manor and Susan E. Wiley elementary schools celebrated the birthday of Johnny Appleseed, the pioneer nurseryman credited with introducing apples to several states in the late 1700s, by having students sample different types of apples, vote for their favorite and graph the class results.
The lesson was also "a great way for students to review the properties of science," said Wiley kindergarten teacher Claudia Nakash.
In East Setauket, Minnesauke Elementary sixth-graders competed in a scarecrow contest coordinated by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization. The students collaborated to create designs resembling "Wizard of Oz" characters, and the scarecrows were displayed last month along the sidewalks in the Stony Brook Village Center.
In Riverhead, Phillips Avenue Elementary kindergartners incorporated their observations of pumpkins into original drawings and writings. They also measured the height of pumpkins using cubes and experimented to see if the pumpkins would sink or float.
In Hicksville, Old Country Road Elementary pupils compared the size, shape and weight of different apples and sliced them into segments for a lesson in fractions.
"We want to make education enjoyable for children while incorporating the Common Core into our everyday lessons," said Eloise Eisenhardt, a teacher at Charles A. Reinhard Early Childhood Center in Bellmore.
Waverly Park Elementary School students were treated to a healthy-cooking demonstration by chefs from the American Culinary Federation's LI chapter to culminate the school's Wellness Week. The chefs set up four cooking stations to show how easy it is to make nutritious and delicious dishes such as gluten-free chicken, tortilla soup, and fresh fruit with a honey-yogurt dipping sauce. They also used basil from the school garden in their recipes.
Sanford H. Calhoun High School recently educated students on the dangers of drunk and distracted driving through "Arrive Alive," a prevention and simulation program coordinated by UNITE International.
Prevention activities included having teens wear "booze goggles" that replicated the effects of drunkenness as they tried to perform such tasks as stacking cups, walking on a line and operating pedal cars.
"If we save one life as a result of these activities, we have done our job," said Wendy Tepfer, director of the Community Parents Center of Bellmore-Merrick, the event's sponsor.
Baking, sharing bread
Students in the fourth and fifth grades in the Plainedge school district's elementary schools recently enhanced their kitchen skills and helped local homeless through a "Life Skills Bread Baking Program" hosted by King Arthur Flour.
The program led children at the Charles E. Schwarting, Eastplain and John H. West schools through a baking workshop. They then used ingredients supplied by the company to bake two loaves -- one for their families and one for a local community organization.
College, career fairs
Local school districts are preparing students for life after high school with college and career fairs focused on the many opportunities available to them.
In East Islip, about 700 families attended a college fair at the high school that included representatives from more than 130 colleges, universities and branches of the military. The evening featured financial seminars and workshops about NCAA rules for teens planning to pursue sports in a Division I or Division II college or university.
In Merrick, Sanford H. Calhoun High School hosted a districtwide college and career night with representatives from more than 100 two- and four-year colleges who discussed everything from academic requirements to campus life.
In Carle Place, the high school hosted a series of mini- fairs on five consecutive Fridays that consisted of informational booths from 20 colleges and universities each week.
"This is the time of year when our seniors are experiencing the application process, and juniors are really beginning to concentrate on their college search," Carle Place High School counselor Gail Vlacich said.