Students from The Green Vale School in Old Brookville practice...

Students from The Green Vale School in Old Brookville practice diving using a pre-World War II-era brass and copper helmet as part of the school's new marine science program. Credit: The Green Vale School

The Green Vale School is making a splash with its marine science program: Students are analyzing artifacts from local shipwrecks and diving underwater while wearing pre-World War II-era helmets.

The independent school in Old Brookville, which serves children in pre-nursery through eighth grade, launched the program last year to foster students’ appreciation of the aquatic environment and educate them about ecological issues threatening local marine life.

About two dozen sixth- and seventh-graders are participating at the introductory and advanced levels. Brett Curlew, who is associated with Brookhaven National Laboratory and the local BOCES, is the instructor.

“It’s been immensely well-received,” said George Pasquale, the school’s science chair. “We live at a location that begs us to study the ocean. It’s shocking how little we know about it.”

The idea for the program began when Curlew visited Green Vale to help students build remotely operated vehicles using PVC pipes and motors. The vehicles were mounted with cameras and tested in a pool at nearby LIU Post, with students using controllers to “scoop items,” Pasquale said.

Since then, activities have included analysis of dishware, piping and other artifacts that Curlew recovered from local shipwrecks, and collection of marine and water samples from Garvies Point Preserve in Glen Cove.


“Collaboratory” media learning

The Baldwin school district held a ribbon-cutting ceremony recently for a television studio that will give high-school students an opportunity to learn about video creation and editing.

The studio is the foundation of a “New Media” career academy to start in the 2016-17 school year, as well as a partnership with Molloy College to foster digital media literacy.

In the partnership, known as the “Collaboratory,” the college will supply specialized media equipment and renovate part of the district’s Shubert Elementary School into a work space. It was funded in part by a $300,000 grant to the college from the New York Regional Economic Development Council.


MakerSpace center

West Hempstead Middle School recently unveiled a “MakerSpace” learning center designed to inspire students to explore their creative sides.

The center is equipped with a 3-D printer, 3-D pens and Lego Mindstorms, among other items, to encourage students to design, invent and learn. In addition, Makey Makey invention kits enable them to use connector wires and alligator clips to power everyday objects, such as bananas and Play-Doh.

“We developed this to provide students with opportunities to explore, make and tap into a dimension of critical thinking where they can see the designs they think of come to fruition,” said Joe Cangemi, the school’s science chairman.


Digital citizenship

Island Trees Memorial Middle School in Levittown and Jackson Avenue Elementary School in Mineola are among five schools statewide recognized as “Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified Schools” by Common Sense Education.

The nonprofit is dedicated to helping children and families thrive in a time of digital media and technology. It has offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Schools had to demonstrate a commitment to taking a whole-community approach to preparing students to use the power of digital media to learn, while limiting the perils of the online realm, such as cyberbullying, plagiarism and the loss of privacy.

“By preparing our students to use technology safely and responsibly, we are providing them with unlimited opportunities to maximize and personalize learning,” said Janet Gonzalez, principal of Jackson Avenue Elementary School.

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