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Water Quality Challenge debuts for middle schoolers

Eighth-graders at Islip Middle School conducted research -

Eighth-graders at Islip Middle School conducted research - from water-quality testing to seining for freshwater creatures - during a field trip this fall to the Carlls River in Babylon as part of the school's "A Day in the Life of a River" program. This type of education about water quality is the subject of a new STEM competition for Long Island's middle school students that is geared toward devising solutions to reduce nitrogen pollution on school grounds. Credit: Islip School District

Long Island’s middle school students are being invited to design projects to help reduce nitrogen pollution on their local school grounds.

The effort is part of a new STEM competition called the Long Island Water Quality Challenge, which was created by the Long Island Regional Planning Council. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

The competition is intended to help combat excess nitrogen from aging residential septic systems, fertilizer and stormwater runoff that has deteriorated surface and groundwater quality on Long Island, council officials said.

The contest stems from the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan — a multiyear effort implemented by the planning council, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“We’re looking at ways to address the nitrogen problems on Long Island, while also educating our young people on the benefits of a STEM career,” said John Cameron, who chairs the planning council.

The challenge asks teams to examine one of two categories: “Low Input Landscaping on School Grounds” or “Stormwater Treatment on School Grounds.” The first category asks them to identify ways to reduce use of fertilizers, pesticides and overwatering by choosing different landscape designs and plant varieties, while the second category asks them to design projects to collect and treat runoff.

Teams can submit a letter of interest through by April 10. They will present their projects to a panel of experts in spring 2020.


Conrad Challenge

Herricks High School’s “Team Carbotrope” — students Preethi Krishnamoorthy, Azra Rangwala, Rhea Rasquinha and Arpitha Vinod — are among 38 finalists worldwide in the 2018-19 Conrad Challenge, which asks students to create solutions to real-world challenges.

Team Carbotrope is a finalist in the challenge’s energy and environment category for the group’s project involving an electric car enhanced with graphene that strives to help improve energy efficiency, reduce fossil fuel emissions and combat global warming.

Finalists are invited to present their projects at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Merritt Island, Florida, on April 23-26.


Read Across America

Many local schools hosted reading-themed activities this month for the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, which coincided with the birthday of the late Dr. Seuss.

In North Bellmore, kindergartners in Peggy Vento’s class at Newbridge Road Elementary School participated in “buddy reading” with third-graders in Brenda Adragna’s class, using Dr. Seuss books. They also discussed the illustrations and meaning of the stories.

In East Meadow, kindergartners and first-graders at Parkway Elementary School gathered in hallways with blankets and books they brought from home. Some books were shared in groups, while other students individually read as many books as possible.

In Bethpage, Central Boulevard Elementary School participated in various literacy activities, including a 15-minute program called “Drop Everything and Read.”


‘Go APE’ Awards

Eight Long Island students received Awards of Excellence this month at the Art League of Long Island’s 12th Annual “Go APE” Advanced Placement Student Exhibition, which featured artwork by 140 students from 40 local high schools.

Winners and their high schools were: Sydney Carpenter, Bay Shore; Amanda Rigby and Michelle Zheng, Bethpage; Remsha Arif, Floral Park; Ava Herrera, Sayville; Jiayi Huo, Syosset; and Kailee Finn and Caroline Latortue, Valley Stream Central.

“The artwork in the gallery that springs from such creative minds makes you stop and catch your breath,” said Charlee Miller, the league’s executive director. “It’s gratifying to see the next generation carry the torch forward.”

The exhibit was on view at the league’s Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery in Dix Hills from Feb. 15 through March 3.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect time frame for when teams participating in the Water Quality Challenge will present their projects to a panel of experts.

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