Dozens of local schools joined a nationwide campaign to teach students the fundamentals of computer programming as part of an "Hour of Code," designed to spark interest in the fast-growing field while encouraging creative thinking and problem-solving.
"The kids really loved it," said Norma Carbone, a teacher in the Malverne school district who helped coordinate the event there for fifth- and sixth-graders. "I've seen fireworks go off over students' heads, not lightbulbs."
More than 20 million students nationwide participated in the inaugural program, coordinated by the nonprofit Code.org and held in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week on Dec. 9-15.
In Bay Shore, Gardiner Manor Elementary School's fourth- and fifth-graders were introduced to Scratch, an online program that can create fast and simple coding projects. Meanwhile, Lindenhurst high school students used Scratch to create interactive greeting cards.
In Seaford, a dozen students from the high school's computer club taught a group of 20 middle schoolers using Alice, a programming language that uses a drag-and-drop format.
"I knew it was an easy program, but I'm impressed they were able to learn it so fast and with little guidance," Seaford junior Dominic Scicutella said.
Grand Avenue Middle School recently raised more than $7,400 for the American Heart Association through a Jump Rope for Heart event in which kids solicited pledges from family and friends based on their participation in a variety of jump-rope activities.
"This activity gives students a chance to learn why being healthy is important," said Grand Avenue physical education teacher George Bossert, who helped direct the event.
In other news, John F. Kennedy High School raised more than $1,300 with a trivia challenge to benefit the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County. Teams solicited pledges and answered 100 questions on a range of topics.
Charles Campagne Elementary School has been named as having the best pizza among Long Island schools through a contest coordinated by Rich's Food service and Aramark Corp., a food and clothing provider.
The award was given to head cook Grace Mascoli, who uses "a process similar to local pizza places to perfect her crust," school officials said.
Mascoli's pizza can be prepared in just four minutes and on whole-wheat crust with low-fat mozzarella cheese. She has worked in the Bethpage Union Free School District since 1988.
AIDS Awareness Week
The Massapequa School District educated students about the harsh reality of living with an incurable disease through activities held during AIDS Awareness Week in December.
The district's high school students heard firsthand accounts from two speakers from Love Heals: The Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education, while middle schoolers learned how the disease is contracted and how to protect themselves. Elementary-age pupils were taught basic hygiene and how to be compassionate to individuals with the disease.
The high school also hosted a public viewing of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt honoring people who died of AIDS.
Clean Tech Competition
The Center for Science Teaching & Learning in Rockville Centre is accepting entries for its 2014 Clean Tech Competition, a new research and design contest.
The competition's theme, "A Solution for Pollution," challenges students ages 15-18 to propose a solution to a local or global pollution problem using clean technology.
Teams of up to three must submit a paper by March 7. Finalists will be announced April 14 and will be asked to make a presentation at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage on May 30.
The first-place team will receive a grand prize of $15,000.
"This competition is a wonderful opportunity for students to get greater understanding of what it is like to work in a STEM field," said William Wahlig, executive director of the Long Island Forum for Technology, which will host the finals.
To register or for more information, call 516-764-0045 or visit cleantechcompetition.org.