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Lexus Eco Challenge has 5 teams from LI win $10,000

Members of Jericho High School's four teams that

Members of Jericho High School's four teams that each won $10,000 in the Lexus Eco Challenge. Credit: Jericho School District

Four teams from Jericho High School and one team from Locust Valley Middle School won $10,000 each in the Lexus Eco Challenge, a national competition in which students strive to fix a local environmental problem.

Those groups were among 32 high school and middle school teams nationally to earn the prizes. They all have a chance to win one of two $30,000 grand prizes or eight $15,000 first-place prizes in the contest’s final challenge this spring.

“We’re not a large school, so to have four winning teams is pretty spectacular,” said Serena McCalla, Jericho’s science research coordinator.

Jericho’s The Almighty Algae and Orbis teams won in the competition’s Land & Water Challenge. The Almighty Algae’s project included selling fertilizer made from algae, with proceeds benefiting a local university for algae research. Orbis developed a purifier using almond shells to naturally remove lead from water.

Jericho’s The Earth Worms and Powerfuels teams won in the competition’s Air & Climate Challenge. The Earth Worms’ project included distributing worms and bins for composting, while Powerfuels promoted using biodiesel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Locust Valley’s Bottle Buddies team, which won in the Air & Climate Challenge, aimed to reduce the school’s carbon footprint via recycling — then using bottle caps for a mural and planting seeds in the bottles.

The competition was created by Lexus and publishing company Scholastic Corp.


Mindfulness space

Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Bellport Academic Center has a new mindfulness space to help special education students learn how to manage feelings of stress and anxiety.

The space — decorated with beanbag chairs and inspirational phrases on the walls — hosts activities including yoga and discussions on topics such as kindness, compassion and balance. The center has integrated yoga classes into the physical education curriculum so that students can experience its benefits several times a week, officials said.

“We want to provide them with coping strategies to bring them back to the center and focus on academics,” said Donna Morey, the center’s speech pathologist, who created the mindfulness space with physical education teacher Chantal Penney.


Creative Learning Labs

The Cold Spring Harbor school district has unveiled Creative Learning Labs at its Lloyd Harbor and West End elementary schools. The labs support project-based work and include everything from a soundproof recording booth to full-class sets of iPads and CloudBooks.

During one recent project, fifth-graders investigated topics of their choice and presented their findings to classmates. Topics ranged from bearded dragons to the effects of social media on moods.

“At first, students were not quite sure what to do with this thinking freedom, but it didn’t take long before they took the leap,” Lloyd Harbor fifth-grade teacher Eileen Conroy said.


Spelldown qualifiers

Sixteen Suffolk County students qualified for the spelldown of the 2018 Hofstra Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee after taking the contest’s written exam portion.

Qualifiers and their school districts were: Matthew Nyman, Babylon; George Rogers and Annelise Schreiber, Bayport-Blue Point; Ava Donohue, Cold Spring Harbor; Robert Hilbert, East Islip; Zekey Huang, Mount Sinai; Luke Frisoli, Northport-East Northport; Isabelle Chen, Port Jefferson; Brian Agnes and Stephen Jung, Smithtown; Natalia Lutz, South Huntington; and Ava Himmelsbach, Ryan Himmelsbach and Alana John, Three Village.

Other qualifiers were: Zainab Waheed, Ivy League School; and Maverick Williams, Long Island School for the Gifted.

Ryan Himmelsbach of the Three Village district in East Setauket won the spelling bee, held Feb. 11 at Hofstra University.— Michael R. Ebert

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