Teams from Lawrence Middle School recently took the top two spots in the Regional Middle School Science Bowl's solar car challenge at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
In total, 21 Long Island middle school teams participated in the annual challenge, which required students to design, build and race model solar-powered cars on a 15-meter track.
The first-place team - Brianna Burbia, Briana Curra, Victoria DiCeglio, Remy Geier and Jennifer Kendal - recorded a time of 5.65 seconds, only two-hundredths of a second ahead of their classmates.
"It was never sunny in the week leading up to the competition," said science teacher and team coach Kobir Gupta, noting the team didn't get a chance to properly test the car. "This win was very unexpected."
A month before the event, competing schools received a kit that included a solar panel, motor and other equipment, Gupta said. The first-place team opted to construct its car of balsa wood, which is low in density but high in strength.
The runners-up - Louis Jan, Joseph Padilla, Kyle Singh and Reggie Verrier - used a textbook cover for their car body.
A team from R.C. Murphy Junior High School in Stony Brook took first place in the bowl's quiz portion and will compete next month at the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C.
'Pennies for Patients'
Three schools in the Garden City School District - Hemlock, Homestead and Locust - combined to raise more than $6,000 through "Pennies for Patients" coin drives to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
In other news, Stewart School donated 380 pairs of shoes to needy kids in Nepal via the nonprofit Soles4Souls.
South America music trip
A group of 84 music students from North Shore High School's band, orchestra and choir traveled to South America last month as part of a tour that included performances at Teatro bastion del Carmen in Uruguay and Basilica Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Buenos Aires.
The school's music department, which coordinates a student tour every other year, chose South America based on a recent school production of "Evita." The trip was funded in part through fundraisers.
Mural recalls a student
Wantagh School District's Junior Art Honor Society recently unveiled a mural in the music room of Mandalay Elementary School created in honor of Victoria Riccardi, a Mandalay student who died two years ago. Riccardi was known for having a "special interest in the arts," school officials said.
The mural consists of characters depicting various eras of music with sheet music for "You Can't Stop the Beat" from the musical "Hairspray" painted along the wall.
Kids in the Kitchen
About 100 students and parents from Powells Lane Elementary School learned healthy habits earlier this month during a Kids in the Kitchen program coordinated by the Junior League of Long Island.
The event included displays of healthy food choices as well as cooking and fitness demonstrations from companies ranging from Lucy B's Jump N Fun in Woodmere to LilChefs.com, a company specializing in children's cooking parties.
"Educating children is key to reducing the obesity trend in our nation," said league president Deidra Maleno.
Offering relief to Haiti
Many Long Island schools have continued to collect supplies and monetary donations to further help victims of the Haiti earthquake.
In Roslyn, three schools - East Hills and Harbor Hill elementary schools and Roslyn Middle School - raised a total of $20,000 through fundraisers that included an exhibit of student art and a "Pajama Day" in which kids paid a fee to wear pajamas to school for a day. Funds benefited nonprofits working in Haiti ranging from Doctors Without Borders to Save the Children.
In Lynbrook, five schools raised $13,000 through fundraisers that included a talent show at the high school and bracelet sales at Marion Street School, while East School in Long Beach raised $8,200 for the Red Cross via various fundraisers.
Twenty-one Long Island students have advanced to the state level of the National Geographic Bee, an annual geography contest sponsored by the National Geographic Society. They qualified based on tests given at the school level and will compete next month in Albany. Nassau County students are:
Albertson: Anthony Iafrate of Herricks Middle School; East Meadow: Andrew Weiss of Woodland Middle School; Floral Park: Matt Denaro of John Lewis Childs School and John Mendis of Floral Park Memorial High School; Great Neck: Matt Wigler of Great Neck North Middle School; Jericho: Richard Zhang of Jericho Middle School; Oceanside: Josh Kotlyar of Oceanside Middle School; Rockville Centre: Nick Marcotrigiano of South Side Middle School; Syosset: Rohith Rokkam of Thompson Middle School; Wantagh: Dan Peragine of Wantagh Middle School; West Hempstead: Joe Schneider of West Hempstead Middle School.