A Lawrence team recently motored its way to the top spot in a model car competition for the third consecutive year.

Lawrence Middle School beat out 10 other local schools earlier this month to take first place in the 2012 Electric Car Challenge of the Regional Science Bowl held at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The competition required students to design, build and race electric cars that could carry a bottle of water down a 15-meter track in the fastest time possible.

The team -- Frank Gargano, Brandon Brumm, Serge Byakov, Danielle Grushkovskiy and Jeremy Rampersaud -- had a top time of 5.03 seconds.

"We stuck with the same basic design as the last few years," said team coach Kobir Gutpa. "This is one of the best teams we've had."

Competing schools received a kit that included a lithium-ion battery, motor and other equipment a month before the event, Gupta said. The team opted to construct its car of balsa wood, which is low in density but high in strength, and also used rubber bands on the tires in an effort to increase friction.

Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School and Bellport Middle School were runners-up with times of 5.25 and 5.50 seconds, respectively.

"We were ecstatic when we found out we had the best time," said Gargano, a Lawrence eighth-grader, who attributed the team's success to the friction of the rubber bands.

Grushkovskiy added, "I think our design was really simple, but the simpler the better."



NASA research

Thomas Doyle, a science teacher at J.W. Dodd Middle School, was the sole New York teacher chosen to participate in a research program this summer funded by NASA in which he and three students will use archival data from space telescopes to create diagrams to compare luminosity against temperature. The three students are Rajiv Chanda, Adrian Payamps and Rebecca Robles.

In other news, Bayview Elementary School fourth-graders were the latest group of Freeport students to participate in the Freeport Police Department's Adopt-a-Cop Program when they attended a school pizza luncheon hosted by the local precinct and school PTA. A total of 38 police officers participate in the program at the district's four elementary schools, and the aim is to encourage youths to steer clear of bad influences and activities.



Students visit Italy

Twenty-one students from North Shore High School recently had the opportunity to bring their Italian studies to life during a visit to Italy coordinated through the Instituto Technico in Tuscany. During the visit, each teen lived with a family that had children enrolled at the institute and also shadowed the children at the school.

In addition, North Shore students went on a 3-mile hike wearing snowshoes to the top of Monte Falco and also visited the Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

"It was an experience that one student said was the best two weeks of his life," said Italian teacher Ann Koch.



Librarian gets grantJudy Shaughnessy, a librarian at Jackson Avenue Elementary School, is one of three U.S. educators to receive a $1,000 collection development grant from Minnesota-based Mackin Education Resources to help purchase books and materials. To win, she entered a contest by visiting the Mackin's booth at the American Association for School Librarians National Conference in Minneapolis.

Jackson Avenue used the funds to purchase 55 books that were aligned with the new Common Core Standards.


$20,000 scholarships

Jeffrey Cannon of Northport High School and Carly Miller of Smithtown High School West -- were among 104 nationwide named recipients of $20,000 scholarships from the nonprofit Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, a nonprofit dedicated to the ideals of the 19th-century author. Recipients demonstrate individual initiative, perseverance over adversity, and a commitment to helping the less fortunate. Winners will be honored next month in Washington, D.C.

"The association is proud to help these talented individuals find continued success through their pursuit of higher education," said Tony Novelly, the association's president and chief executive. "We know they will continue to represent the Horatio Alger ideals of achievement through perseverance and integrity in facing life's challenges."

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