Five robotics teams from Long Island high schools will compete next weekend at a national tournament in St. Louis.
The schools -- Longwood High School in Middle Island, Great Neck South High School, Southold Junior/Senior High School, Plainedge High School, and North Shore High School in Glen Head -- won top awards last month at the 13th Annual Long Island Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition at Hofstra University in Hempstead.
In total, more than 1,200 students from 50 tristate area schools participated in the competition, which requires teams to build a robot over a six-week period using a kit of parts.
"All teams demonstrated tremendous teamwork, gracious professionalism and strategic thinking, but these winners went above and beyond," said Ginny Greco, the robotics competition director for the School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, the event's sponsor.
This year's theme, "Rebound Rumble," challenged three-team alliances to compete on a 27-by-54-foot playing field and attempt to earn points by scoring basketballs into hoops. Additional points were earned for balancing robots on bridges.
The advancing teams and their awards are: Longwood, Regional Chairman's Award; Great Neck South, Regional Engineering Inspiration Award; Plainedge, Regional Winner No. 1 Award; Southold, Regional Winner No. 3 Award; North Shore, Rookie All-Star Award.
Little Doctors blood driveFrank P. Long Intermediate School's Student Council recently helped collect 51 pints of blood for Long Island Blood Services at its first Little Doctors Blood Drive. Children acted as "little doctors" by signing up community members to donate blood, serving juice and sweets, and creating promotional posters, school officials said.
Baking up kindness
More than 160 seventh-graders at Robert Frost Middle School recently combined learning to bake with helping the less fortunate at a program in which they each baked two loaves of bread -- one to keep and one to donate to soup kitchens at Community Presbyterian Church and Ascension Lutheran Church in Deer Park. Supplies were donated by Vermont-based King Arthur Flour.
"It is a really holistic kind of approach to education," said Gina Ciancia, the school's bread baking program teacher.
Reading to Dogs
Sunrise Drive Elementary School is fostering a love of literacy through Reading to Dogs, a pilot program in which kids read in the company of a cockapoo. The dog -- owned by district speech-language pathologist Wendy Barrick -- nestles with children as they read in groups, school officials said.
"If they have a less stressful, nonjudgmental environment with a forgiving and loving creature -- like a dog that has been trained to do that -- it's a more comfortable situation conducive for learning," said Barrick, who is a certified pet therapist.
Twenty-five students recently beat out 434 science projects from 69 Long Island high schools at the 2012 Long Island Science & Engineering Fair at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
They will advance next month to the International Science & Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh. The international fair will consist of more than 1,500 pupils from 65 countries.
Local students advancing are: Rebecca Alford, Steve Jang, Rajkumar Pammal and Trinity Russell of Commack High School; Nickolas Boroda of Massapequa High School; Nick Dipreta and Kevin Li of Manhasset High School; Brett Gossett of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore; Kathryn Hochberg and Daphne Superville of George W. Hewlett High School; Andrew Hurst, Zach Klein, Arianne Papa and Jane Smyth of Long Beach High School; Anoj Ilanges of Oceanside High School; Ben Kornick and Kevin Sherwin of Roslyn High School; Bailey Liao and Azaria Zornberg of Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills; Japbani Nanda of W. Tresper Clarke High School in East Meadow; April Pun of Jericho High School; Ruchi Shah of Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma; Bilal Siddiqui of Mepham High School in North Bellmore; Shannon Wetzler of Kings Park High School; and Charles Yu of Wheatley School in Old Westbury.