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Nassau: Odyssey weird-science winners

A Saltzman East Memorial team from Farmingdale recently

A Saltzman East Memorial team from Farmingdale recently won second place in weird science at the state finals of Odyssey of the Mind. Their next stop: the world finals in Iowa May 23-26. Credit: Handout

Farmingdale fifth-graders are preparing to display their creativity on a world stage.

A team of six students from Stanley D. Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School -- Gregory Campisi, Mario Castano Jr., Nicholas Demers, Hannah Fernandez, Alissa Kevan and Matthew Widmer -- recently won second place in the Division I weird science category at the New York State finals of Odyssey of the Mind, an international program with a mission of teaching kids creative problem-solving methods.

The team will compete in the 2012 World Finals at Iowa State University May 23-26. Saltzman is the only Long Island school to reach the competition's international level. Central Valley Elementary School won Division I and will also compete.

"I was surprised and thrilled, because I know this team has worked so hard," said JeanMarie Papillo, the team's coach and a Horizons teacher of gifted and talented education.

She added: "I never stress about the win; it's much more about teamwork and solving problems."

The team's project involved creating an alternate explanation to NASA photographs depicting a volcanic eruption and then sharing their solution during an eight-minute performance before a panel of judges.

The team's solution attributed the destruction to a scientist who had been dabbling with explosive magnets, Papillo said.

To reach the state level, the team won first place this spring at the regionals in Bellmore.

 

FLORAL PARK

Titanic essay winner

Stephanie Martinez of Sewanhaka High School was recently named first-place winner of the 2012 Essay Contest coordinated by the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area. The contest required students to write a short story and use the Titanic as a source for creative writing by bringing people back to life as a tribute to the tragedy's 100th anniversary.

For winning, Martinez received a $250 cash prize. The runner-up was Jeanne Powell of Valley Stream South High School, and third-place winners were Victoria Grover of Wellington C. Mepham High School in North Bellmore and Meaghan Coyne of Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead.

Bridget Creighton of Manhasset High School was the first-place winner of the contest's interview category and received $200. The runner-up in that category was Samantha Zimits of Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, and third-place winners were Colleen Gorman of Our Lady of Mercy Academy and Chris Miano of Wellington C. Mepham High School.

 

LOCUST VALLEY

French experience

Nine students from the Portledge School recently traveled to France to visit pen pals they had been communicating with via email and Facebook at the Lycée Paul Melizan School in Marseilles. During the two-week trip, Portledge pupils attended classes with their French counterparts and toured locations in Paris such as the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Centre Pompidou.

 

COUNTYWIDE

Distinguished teachers

Five Nassau County educators recently received 2012 Distinguished Teacher Awards from the Harvard Club of Long Island for their positive effect on the lives of their students. They were nominated by current Harvard University undergraduates who previously attended local high schools.

Award recipients are: science research teacher Alan Schorn of Great Neck North High School; physics teacher Steven Capuano of George W. Hewlett High School; math teacher Scott Drucker of Farmingdale High School; music teacher Scott Dunn of Baldwin High School; and English teacher Jolen Grgas Segal of Roslyn High School.

ISLANDWIDE

Scholarship winners

Six high school seniors from Long Island are among 1,000 nationwide to be selected to receive corporate-sponsored scholarships of up to $10,000 a year from the National Merit Scholarship Corp. Scholarship recipients are children of a respective corporation's employee and plan to pursue a major or career the sponsor wishes to encourage.

Recipients and respective corporations are: Aniksha Balamurugan of Smithtown High School East, Estée Lauder Companies; Julia Huang of Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, Battelle; Jeffrey Sun of Huntington High School, Motorola Solutions Foundation; Melissa Yao of Syosset High School, Estée Lauder Companies; Scott Zhang of Longwood High School in Middle Island, Battelle; Daniel Zirkel of Bethpage High School, Northrop Grumman Corp.

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