Teams in the competition used Lego play materials and Mindstorm, a programmable Lego toy, to build a robot that could serve as a safe and efficient mode of transportation and traverse an obstacle course in 21/2 minutes. The East Rockaway team used a trolley design inspired by the Village of East Rockaway's natural gas trolleys.
"This was our first year competing," said East Rockaway tech teacher Nick Cimorelli, who coached the team with fellow teacher Hugh Howard. "Our mouths fell open when we were told we won."
East Rockaway's team members - from grades 5-8 - were Andy Garcia, Brandon Jackson, Courtney Jackson, Peter Liotta, Declan Louw, James Lukens, John Machovec, James Morris, Alex Sharky, Rory Sloan and James Tierney.
Other award-winning teams were the Dust Bunnies of Locust Valley for design, Chief Chargers of Massapequa for programming, Sewanhaka Cobras of Floral Park for innovation, and Fill In the Blanks of Manhasset for teamwork.
The Green Lightning team of Locust Valley won the Judge's Award and four teams from the Girl Scouts of Nassau County won awards for research quality, creative presentation, robot performance and professionalism.
The School-Business Partnerships of Long Island sponsored the event.
Allissa Pietrowski of Floral Park Memorial High School and Jenna Rae Picone of West Hempstead High School have been named recipients of President Volunteer Service Awards from the Long Island Volunteer Center based on volunteer efforts. They will also receive the Joann Fiorentino Lucas "Take Pride In What You Do" Citizenship Award from the Long Island Breakfast Club.
Pietrowski's efforts include collecting food donations for the nonprofit Rock Can Roll and recycling ink cartridges through the club's Go Green Project. Picone has helped organize holiday toy drives and the club's Italian Heritage Night.
Old Country Road Elementary School recently hosted a workshop to teach parents simple ways to assist kindergartners in developing literacy skills.
Projects included cutting a cereal box into puzzle shapes for kids to reassemble based on letter and word cues. Teachers also presented an educational video about building literacy in both English and Spanish.
"We wanted to demonstrate that there are low- or no-cost items they can use at home to participate in building literacy with children," said second language teacher Lucy Vieco.
Mock job fair
Locust Valley Middle School recently held a job fair meant to bring history to life in which seventh-graders dressed as Colonial-era workers - ranging from candlemakers to tailors - and manned booths to explain their professions.
In other news, fifth-graders at Bayville Intermediate School illustrated geometric concepts by using newspaper and dowels to build a 5-foot-high dome comprised of linking triangles.
"They were able to see that geometry . . . could be applied to professions such as engineering," said teacher Lori Pace.
New music wing
Seaford High School recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil an 8,000-square-foot music wing funded by a portion of a $22-million bond approved by residents in 2007. Attending officials included Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Nassau County Legislators David Denenberg (D-Merrick) and Dennis Dunne Sr. (R-Levittown).
During the ceremony, Superintendent Thomas Markle displayed three U.S. flags sent from U.S. troops in Afghanistan as a thank-you for care packages mailed by students.
Jumping for heart health
James A. Deer and Wheeler Avenue elementary schools recently raised $8,300 and $3,200, respectively, for the American Heart Association through separate Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart fundraisers.
To collect funds, students solicited sponsorships from their families and rotated in a series of work stations that tested their jumping and basketball skills.
Model United Nations
Five Nassau County high schools were among 28 schools in the tri-state area to compete last month in the Philadelphia Model UN, a four-day United Nations simulation conference coordinated by the Institute for Domestic and International Affairs. Students debated issues such as the impact of globalization on the Middle East.
H. Frank Carey and Floral Park's participation is being featured in "Model UN," a television series currently airing on MSG Varsity, which is owned by Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.