A team from R.C. Murphy Junior High School in Stony Brook took first place earlier this month in the Regional Middle School Science Bowl at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
More than 100 students from 13 Long Island middle schools competed in the "Jeopardy"- style tournament designed to test science and math knowledge.
The five-student team will compete next month at the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C.
"We won the regionals last year, so I wasn't expecting it this year because there's never been a team that repeated," said the school's science chair, Patrick McManus. The middle school part of the competition began in 2002.
R.C. Murphy went undefeated in six matches - consisting of eight-minute rounds with four- and 10-point questions - and beat Commack in the finals by a score of 104-68.
Team members were Akilesh Tangella, Harrison Li, Daniel Redlinger, Raymond Yin and Felix Wang.
"We definitely have a chance to do well in the nationals," said Tangella, the team's captain. "We have to learn from last year and become faster."
Added McManus: "These kids are very competitive."
A team from Lawrence Middle School won the bowl's solar-car challenge by racing a solar-powered model car down a 15-meter track in 5.65 seconds.
Master trumpet class
Deer Park High School's jazz ensemble recently participated in a master class with John Altman, a decorated trumpet player and sergeant first class in the U.S. Army Field Band. Altman has also played with the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra and Washington Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
During the visit, Altman instructed teens on playing techniques and explained the importance of hard work and networking in the music industry.
Half Hollow Hills School District is one of 38 districts nationwide to be designated an Apple Exemplary Program based on its use of technology.
The district's efforts include providing 70 teachers a year with a laptop for use in school and at home. Teachers also undergo 50 hours of training to learn how to effectively use technology in the classroom.
Holocaust survivor visits
Rocky Point Middle School students recently had an inspirational visit from Marion Blumenthal Lazan, a Holocaust survivor who spent six years in the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
During the visit, Lazan urged students not to stereotype others based on religion, color or race, and she shared stories from her 1999 published memoir, "Four Perfect Pebbles."
"Please share my story with friends, relatives, and someday grandchildren," Lazan asked students. "The horror of the Holocaust must be kept alive."
Plans to save energy
The South Huntington School District recently announced plans to install solar panels at Walt Whitman High School and energy-saving equipment at each of its seven schools. The $11-million project is expected to reduce the district's reliance on outside energy by 34 percent and save $15 million over 18 years, school officials said.
The upgrades also include the replacement of 2,775 bulbs and ballasts and 6,050 fixtures with energy-efficient models.
Haiti relief efforts
Many Long Island schools have continued to collect supplies and monetary donations to further help organizations assisting victims of the Haiti earthquake.
In the Hauppauge School District, the high school's French Club held a districtwide Jeans Day that raised $2,900 for the Red Cross by asking staff to pay $5 to wear jeans, while the middle school's International Club raised $2,500 for UNICEF through a concert that featured performances by teachers.
Sayville High School raised $700 for Oxfam International and the Red Cross by selling coffee donated by a local Starbucks, while Sylvan Elementary School in Bayport donated 271 pairs of gently used jeans to victims via Aeropostale's Jeans for Teens program.
Twenty-one Long Island students have advanced to the state level of the National Geographic Bee, an annual geography contest sponsored by the National Geographic Society. They qualified based on tests given at the school level and will compete next month in Albany. The Suffolk County students are:
Cold Spring Harbor: Constantine Markotsis of Cold Spring Harbor Junior/Senior High School; East Northport: Jake Massave of East Northport Middle School; East Setauket: Jonathan Finke of Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School; Huntington Station: Ian Kang of Long Island School for the Gifted; Melville: Kelvin Waiksnis of West Hollow Middle School; Nesconset: Joseph Feldman of Great Hollow Middle School; Patchogue: Kristina Camacho of Saxton Middle School; Sayville: Sean Lorthioir of Sayville Middle School; Stony Brook: Harrison Li of R.C. Murphy Junior High School; West Islip: Sean McShane of Beach Street Middle School.