One of Long Island's most effective learning environments is the environment itself.
Many local schools hosted field trips to adjacent bays, lakes and rivers this fall to help students learn first hand about the region's ecosystems and wildlife.
AP environmental science students from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach collected bottom and surface samples from two locations in the Great South Bay during a ride aboard the South Shore Estuary Preserve's bay constable boat. The effort was intended to help teens develop an appreciation for, and knowledge of, local rivers and estuaries.
"Taking students into an 'outdoor classroom' such as the Carmans River or Great South Bay makes it possible for them to engage within their local ecosystem and participate in citizen science," William Floyd environmental science teacher Dawna Cintron said. "Each observational experience solidifies learning and supports important academic concepts."
Students from P.J. Gelinas Junior High School in Setauket assessed the rate of wetland growth by using a peat auger to core through layers of a salt marsh at nearby Flax Pond. They also learned how tidal wetlands buffer the impact of storms on coastlines and can filter harmful pollutants.
Westhampton Beach High School's science research and environmental science classes planted thousands of clams in a spawner sanctuary to help replenish depleted clam beds as part of a research cruise on Weesuck Creek in East Quogue.
Babylon Memorial Grade School's fifth-graders tested and compared specifics such as pH, dissolved oxygen and salinity levels of water samples taken from nearby Hawley's Lake, Hempstead Lake and Northport Bay.
A lion-themed design created by Longwood High School senior Mario Braxton Jr. has been selected as a new logo for the Yaphank Fire Department.
Braxton's logo, which was based on the school's mascot and slogan of "Pride, Spirit, Heart," was unveiled this fall on the department's newest fire truck. Twenty students submitted potential designs under the guidance of Longwood art teacher Claire Hall.
"A lion symbolizes courage, power and strength, much like our local firefighters," Braxton said.
William Floyd School District has two new principals: Matthew Sanders at William Floyd Middle School and Heather Murillo at Nathaniel Woodhull Elementary School. They replaced the retiring Carolyn Schick and Monica Corona, respectively.
Sanders previously was an assistant principal at William Floyd High School and has been a special-education teacher, extracurricular adviser, union representative and coach.
Murillo, whose appointment takes effect Jan. 6, previously was Nathaniel Woodhull's assistant principal and has been a kindergarten screening supervisor for the district.
"Together with the faculty and staff, we will continue to cultivate a positive atmosphere where all students can prosper both academically and socially," Sanders said.
Eighty-four students have been named Long Island Young Scholars of Mathematics by the Institute of Creative Problem Solving for Gifted and Talented Students at SUNY Old Westbury. Selection means they are in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of math students in their grade islandwide.
Suffolk County scholars and their school districts are: Warren Wei and William Wei, Cold Spring Harbor; Jimmy Jiang and Adithan Omprakash, Deer Park; Oscar Cheng, Elwood; Samir Batheja, Arav Chand, Viti Chandra, Ellis Eisenberg, Aidan Joseph, Justin Roberts and Mark Shapiro, Half Hollow Hills; Viraaj Hegde, Hauppauge; Bryan Avila, Joshua D'Souza, Anne Mara and James Young, Northport-East Northport; and Mikael Choi, Harry Gao, Benjamin Wu and Oliver Wu, Three Village.
Other local selectees were: Surya Krishnan, Nandika Salhotra and Jonah Schiffer, Long Island School for the Gifted.