First-grade students from Rolling Hills Primary School in Commack recently...

First-grade students from Rolling Hills Primary School in Commack recently spent a fall morning learning about how apples come to be at Fort Salonga Farm. Credit: Commack School District

The autumn air inspired many local teachers to give lesson plans a seasonal spin.

Long Island schools hosted everything from pumpkin-themed science experiments to apple-related art projects in an effort to infuse classrooms with unusual learning opportunities.

In Commack, first-graders at Rolling Hills Primary School took a field trip to Fort Salonga Farm, where they learned about the role that bees play in pollinating trees and apple blossoms for a successful harvest. They also picked Fuji apples, sampled apple juice and wrote personal narratives describing their experiences at the farm.

"Field trips such as this one offer a unique opportunity for authentic learning for younger students," Rolling Hills Principal Janet Studley said. "The children realize that apples are created by an intricate chain of events that occur in nature."

In Amityville, members of Edmund W. Miles Middle School's National Junior Honor Society helped young children pick and paint pumpkins at the Amityville Village Applefest, which attracted more than 2,000 people. The eighth-graders volunteered as part of a community service requirement, while ninth-graders used the time as credit for entry into the National Honor Society.

At Aquebogue Elementary School, kindergartners in Keri Stromski's class used a scale to compare the weight of an apple with various classroom objects as part of a math lesson. They also dissected apples, counted seeds and made structures out of apple slices and toothpicks.

In Deer Park, pre-kindergartners at May Moore Primary School, with the help of visiting relatives, created festive pumpkin candleholders using glass jars, tissue paper and glue.

 

BAY SHORE: New preschool

The Alan and Ellen Spiegel Children's Center, part of the nonprofit Adults and Children with Learning & Developmental Disabilities Inc., officially opened in September.

The center, on an 8.5-acre campus in Bay Shore, is licensed to serve 85 preschoolers — including both typically developing children as well as those with special needs, center officials said.

The $5.6 million school — which features a gym, three outdoor pools and a play area — offers a full- and half-day preschool program, a full-day universal pre-K program and an after-school program.

The Great South Bay YMCA also will offer its summer recreation program and camp at the center.

 

MIDDLE ISLAND: $1.7M behavior grant

The Longwood Central School District was selected to receive a School Climate Transformation Grant, valued at $1.7 million over five years, from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant is designed to unite the district's seven buildings with "a framework for addressing the full range of students' social, emotional and behavioral needs," district officials said.

Specifically, the funds will be used to support and strengthen the district's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program services, staff training in proactive behavior management techniques, cultural sensitivity training and system management, among other things.

Longwood was one of 71 school systems nationally, and the only district on Long Island, to receive the grant.

 

SMITHTOWN: Being heroes

Branch Brook Elementary School students learned the importance of bullying prevention through a superhero-themed program titled "OmegaMan & Friends," held in conjunction with National Bully Prevention Month in October.

The program — which has been conducted in more than 3,000 schools since 2008 — was led by Iceman, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics.

As part of the program, students were encouraged to dress as superheroes and sign a pledge to demonstrate good character. In addition, Iceman demonstrated the power of making good choices by tearing apart a telephone-book-sized "book of bad decisions."

 

ISLANDWIDE: ExploraVision

The National Science Teachers Association, in partnership with Toshiba, is accepting 2015 entries for ExploraVision, a K-12 science and technology competition that challenges students to design inventions that could exist 20 years from now.

Participants must simulate real scientific research and create a website to illustrate their concept.

Teams of two to four students compete based on grade levels: primary (K-3), upper elementary (4-6), middle level (7-9) and high school (10-12). Two dozen regional winners will receive a Toshiba laptop for their school and additional technology for themselves.

At the national level, first- and second-place winners will receive United States savings bonds of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. Entry information is available online at exploravision.org. The deadline is Jan. 30.

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