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Nassau: Green energy at aviation museum

Uniondale High School students are helping create a

Uniondale High School students are helping create a business model involving installation of solar panels and wind turbines at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

A select group of Uniondale High School students are putting their energy into a new green-energy learning initiative.

The Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City has tapped them to help create a business model that includes installation of solar panels on hangar roofs and wind turbines outside the museum.

The 100 teens were chosen based on their participation in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Magnet Academy program at the museum. The process is expected to take up to two years.

"Renewable energy is a growth industry. It's relevant today, and these students understand the need for it, as opposed to fossil fuels," said Andrew Parton, the museum's executive director. "I believe the students will gain a tremendous amount of experience through this project that will benefit them for many years to come."

After a museum energy audit is complete, the students will research the costs and benefits of implementing renewable energy at the facility, which has 40,000 square feet of roof space. They also will work on public communication and legal aspects of the plan.

"Project-based learning is a way for students to develop real-world skills and expose them to real-world solutions," high school principal Florence Simmons said. "Working directly with community leaders, our students will gain valuable experience in learning about all the benefits that can be derived from renewable energy."

The project will result in creation of a new exhibit and educational program that focuses on benefits of renewable energy, Parton said.



Getting brainy

North Shore High School's psychology classes recently had a chance to put on latex gloves and hold a human brain during a visit from New York Institute of Technology professor Tobi Abramson.

During the visit, Abramson pointed out the brain's different divisions -- frontal lobe, cerebellum, parietal lobe and temporal lobe -- and discussed their functions with the teens. She also stressed the importance of wearing helmets while bike riding or skateboarding.

In other news, the district's Sea Cliff Elementary School recently launched Being Cool KIDS, an initiative that rewards students if they publicly perform a kind act toward a classmate.



Mock debate

Portledge School students explored current events and political issues through a mock presidential debate attended by officials, including Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and Oyster Bay Councilwoman Elizabeth Faughnan.

The teenagers played the roles of president, vice president and various secretaries for both the Democratic and Republican parties. Debate topics ranged from health care to unemployment to international relations with China and Afghanistan. Barack Obama was selected as the winner following a mock vote.

The debate was delayed until late last month due to superstorm Sandy, school officials said.



DNA learning

Fifth-graders at Berry Hill Elementary School have learned the ins and outs of DNA this semester through a four-part program offered at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's DNA Learning Center.

To kick off the program, students constructed cell models out of plastic bags, gelatin and assorted household items, then built DNA models out of Popsicle sticks and tape.

The series culminated with a study of mutant fruit flies through a microscope and a visit to the lab, where students saw how a mock crime was solved using DNA extraction and computer-based models.



Effectiveness grants

Ten Long Island school districts were among 49 statewide that received grants under the state Education Department's Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE) program.

The program supports districts that used a "comprehensive approach" to recruit and develop effective teachers and school leaders as part of their Annual Professional Performance Review plan for evaluating principals and teachers.

Districts were eligible for the grants if at least 25 percent of their students are from low-income families. Local districts receiving grants were Freeport, Hicksville, Huntington, Island Park, Long Beach, Patchogue-Medford, South Huntington, West Babylon, William Floyd and Wyandanch.

"Research shows the best way for schools to help students succeed is to have an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective principal in every school building," Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said in a statement. "STLE grants will help school districts recruit, develop, support and retain effective teachers and leaders at every level."

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