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Lexus Eco Challenge has 5 teams from Nassau 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.


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.


Archaeology Club

Jonas E. Salk Middle School is helping kids learn more about prehistoric cultures through a new Archaeology Club, which launched in September.

The club is open to all grades, with students working on projects relating to archaeology each week. In one project, for example, children created digital stories on what Greek gods and goddesses would do in the 21st century, including how they might use social media.

“I hope that students develop a deeper love for archaeology,” said Renee Essex, the club’s co-adviser.


Spelldown qualifiers

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

Those who qualified and their districts were: Ashton Hummler, Baldwin; Zachary Arzt, Bellmore-Merrick; Alyson Yuen, Carle Place; Stephanie Giles and Nawaal Hassan, East Meadow; Nikolai Sotelo, East Williston; Phoebe Pinder, Glen Cove; David Zeng, Great Neck; Jarod Chan, Herricks; Camilla Angeles and Tamara Sekhniashvili, Hewlett-Woodmere; Sara Ashraf, Hicksville; Darshini Podder, Jericho; Alex Gao, Melody Hong and Charith Maddipatla, Levittown; Makayla Caesar, Malverne; Fiona Wong, North Merrick; Rebekah Anderson, Oceanside; Ava John, Plainview-Old Bethpage; Joshua Burrows, Syosset; and Paige Treiland, Wantagh.

Other qualifiers were: Conor O’Keefe, The Green Vale School; Ruthie Greenstein, Hebrew Academy of Nassau County; Ryan Gerhart, Kellenberg Memorial High 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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