Syreneti DeLaCruz and Daniel Iacobacci were the 1st Congressional District's...

Syreneti DeLaCruz and Daniel Iacobacci were the 1st Congressional District's winners in the 2017 Congressional App Challenge. Credit: Middle Country Central School District

Five Long Island students were winners in a competition that challenged them to code original applications.

The 2017 Congressional App Challenge received more than 1,270 original student-created apps — a 96 percent increase over last year. The challenge is an initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives and managed by the internet Education Foundation.

Local winners were: Syreneti DeLaCruz and Daniel Iacobacci, Newfield High School in Selden, 1st Congressional District; Sarah Pethani and Jeffrey Yu, Roslyn High School, 3rd Congressional District; and Edward Noble, Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, 4th Congressional District.

In all, 190 Congressional districts across 42 states hosted challenges.

“We wanted to build an app to help people have as successful a day as possible,” said Iacobacci, who developed the “Newfield Wolverine” app with DeLaCruz, using MIT App Inventor. Their app is designed to inform classmates about important school information such as schedules and menus.

Pethani and Yu’s “Silent Voice” app aims to bring awareness to how bullying can damage a person’s mental health, while Noble’s “Basic Spanish” app teaches Spanish vocabulary.

Winners received $250 in Amazon Web Services credits and can showcase their apps this spring at a reception in Washington, D.C., called #HouseOfCode. Winning apps also are eligible for display in the Capitol and on


‘Be-a-Famous-Writer’ Contest

Danielle Haber’s second-grade class at William Floyd Elementary School placed second nationwide last month in Mrs. P’s 9th Annual “Be-a-Famous-Writer” Contest, which invited classes of kindergartners through fourth-graders to submit original stories on this year’s theme: dragons.

The class’ prizes included illustrated books and CDs from Cantata Learning, copies of Elissa Brent Weissman’s book “Our Story Begins,” and gift cards from Powell’s Books, a bookstore chain in Portland.

Haber and ToniAnn Powell, who also teaches at William Floyd Elementary, coordinated the school’s submissions.

Mrs. P is an eccentric character who reads children’s stories from her magical library and is portrayed by Kathy Kinney, an actress best known from ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show.”


Science partners

Brookhaven National Laboratory recently welcomed 27 Suffolk County high school students as part of this year’s Partners in Science Program, which grants selected students access to its scientific database of reference and research materials.

The day began with a presentation by one of the lab’s biophysical chemists and a tour of the facility’s National Synchrotron Light Source II. Students attended an orientation on navigating the lab’s directory of research materials and were permitted to conduct research for their own projects.

“Partners in Science makes it possible for science students to meet and engage with scientists at one of the world’s most high-profile labs, hopefully inspiring them to pursue careers in the industry,” said Carl Vitevitch, administrative coordinator for ESBOCES’ School Library System, which co-sponsored the program.


VEX Robotics

Five robotics teams from Long Island high schools were winners last month in the 2018 VEX Robotics Competition at Adelphi University.

The contest featured 38 teams, which formed alliances to outscore opponents using driver-controlled robots to perform tasks such as stacking cones and scoring goals.

Tournament champions were: Hawks (Team No. 9932D), Jericho High School; Roverines Robotics (Team No. 97871A), Newfield High School, Selden; and Robo Chiefs (Team No. 9458A), Massapequa school district. Hawks (Team No. 9932J) of Jericho High School and Roverines Robotics won the Excellence and Robot Skills Winner awards, respectively.


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