The changing seasons has inspired many local teachers to put a unique twist on harvesting young minds.
Long Island schools have hosted everything from fall-themed English and math assignments to science experiments involving apples and pumpkins in an effort to incorporate autumn into the curricula.
In East Rockaway, kindergartners at Centre Avenue Elementary School predicted whether pumpkins would sink or float, while first-graders learned how a pumpkin's lines and color correlate to its number of seeds. The latter students also estimated how many seeds were inside their class' pumpkin before counting out 556 seeds.
"I think it's very common in most elementary grades," Centre Avenue kindergarten teacher Brianne Allgier said of using seasonal items in the classroom. "It's something students already have an interest in; they're always excited about the changing seasons."
In Levittown, kindergartners at East Broadway Elementary practiced sound recognition and reading comprehension with a pumpkin matching game involving colors, letters and pictures. They also created paper apples and labeled its parts to celebrate the birthday of pioneer nurseryman Johnny Appleseed.
In Plainview, kids at Kramer Lane Elementary learned how to make apple cider by crushing and straining the fruit using a traditional cider press in the school's STEM Lab. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
In North Bellmore, children at John G. Dinkelmeyer Elementary constructed towers using a limited supplies — including pencils, string and straws — that could support an apple's weight.
John F. Kennedy High School freshman Tyler Bissoondial won the second-place Science Award last month in Broadcom MASTERS, a science competition for middle schoolers and a program of the Society for Science & the Public.
For winning, Bissoondial received $2,500, along with the $500 he earned for being among the 30 national finalists. Grand Avenue Middle School, which he attended while working on his project last school year, received $1,000.
Bissoondial's project was titled "Identification and Characterization of Salt-Tolerant Mutants in Raphanus sativus [Radish]." It focused on global soil salinization, which is an emerging problem facing crop productions.
Freeport High School recently hosted a ribbon-cutting to unveil a new health center in partnership with Family Health Centers, which is part of the Long Island Federally Qualified Health Clinics.
The center has two exams rooms, a lab and a mental health office, along with three staff members who provide services, including checkups, physicals and vaccines. All services are free for students.
"This clinic is one more way we can meet the physical and mental health needs of our students, offering both medical care and the ability to meet with a clinical social worker," Freeport Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said.
Red Ribbon Week
Many local schools strived to steer students from drugs and alcohol in recognition of Red Ribbon Week from Oct. 23-31.
In Oyster Bay, the high school's Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club coordinated a Grim Reaper Day in which a different student donned a sign describing their fictional death when a gong was sounded. The activity was a reminder that someone dies in an alcohol-related crash every 31 minutes nationwide.
In Seaford, the middle school hosted a visit from motivational speaker Rohan Murphy, who underwent a double-leg amputation due to a congenital deformity and went on to compete in Paralympic powerlifting competitions.
In Long Beach, Lindell Elementary School students learned the importance of fitness by walking around the school's field several times to total one mile during a "Walk It Forward" event.