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Math & Science Department

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Frank Pillitteri

Christine Sciallo




Robotics Team Competes at Adelphi

The high school’s robotics class participated in an outside event for the first time on Jan. 18, competing at Adelphi University’s seventh annual “Tower Takeover” VEX Robotics Competition qualifier. School robotics teams design, build and program robots for the VRC tournaments, then enter qualifying matches where two pairs of allied teams face off. In “Tower Takeover,” the object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by stacking cubes in goals and placing cubes in towers.

East Islip’s students were at the top of their game at Adelphi, far exceeding expectations for a rookie robotics team, finishing 5-2-1 in the qualifying matches and ranking eighth out of 44 teams at the end of preliminary competition. They lost in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs but earned one of their highest scores of the day.

Composed of some of the best and brightest young robotics engineers East Islip has to offer, the team was led by senior Sophia Bates, the captain and lead designer. Junior Kyle Kirschberg drove the robot for the duration, supported by other team members including Mike Baldino, Zoe Elder, Cody Knott, Jake Riordan, Jordan Quillan, Damon Swinson, Jake Thomsett and Pranaav Venkatasubramaniam.

“I am very passionate about robotics and I am glad we got the chance to experience this competition outside of school,” said Bates. “It’s very validating to design and create a robot inside a classroom and see it compete at a very high level against other schools and similar robotics programs.”

“I loved driving the robot during the competition, having my team support me throughout the day by maintaining the robotic components and scouting other teams so that I went into each match prepared,” said Kirschberg.

“I couldn’t have been prouder of this team,” said robotics teacher James Connell. “Everyone had a specific job on the day of the event and each job was instrumental to the team’s success. In the end, it was a great experience for this young group and we are looking forward to even more success in future competitions.”

Connetquot First Graders Become “Super Bowl”ers While Learning Math

First graders at Connetquot Eparticipated in a “Super Bowl” math lesson on Feb. 3, learning addition and subtraction while bowling in the gym.

Fourth-Grade Science and Engineering Fair Winners Recognized

JFK and RCK fourth graders displayed their hard work on Jan. 30 at the schools’ annual science fairs, now expanded to include engineering design. Students from both schools showed how much they had learned about their topics from their research, experiments and design process.

The first-place winner at JFK’s science/engineering fair was Evan Sambo for his project “UV Rays: SPF Protection.” Also recognized were first runner-up Mackenzie Godbout (“Pop A Wheelie”), second runner-up Casey Flad (“Sweet or Meat”) and honorable mentions Jack Fontaine (“Why Does the NHL Freeze Pucks?”), Sachin Kamath (“Keep Your Lawns Healthy and Moist with Less Water”) and Teagan Kuhn (“Does the Cold Really Drain the Battery Out of Your Phone?”).

RCK’s first-place winner was Juliana Rochford for her project “What Swim Suits You.” Ruby Micali (“Age vs. Memory”) finished second, Ethan Fitch (“Lego Cleanup”) came in third, Mateo Baerga (“Go Bananas”) earned fourth, and Ryan Davis (“Dissolve the Rainbow”) and Ariana Russo (“The Effects that Drinks have on Teeth”) tied for fifth place.

“It was an exciting evening and the projects were truly amazing,” said JFK Principal Deborah Smith. “Our future is in great hands. The next generation of innovators showed that their imaginations will take them far.”

The top three winning students for each school were recognized at the district’s Feb. 27 Board of Education meeting.

Young Engineers Explore Aerospace History

High school students in James Connell’s robotics and computer-aided drafting classes recently visited the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, which serves to honor the area’s aerospace heritage by preserving and displaying Long Island’s contribution to air and space travel. During the field trip, the students viewed an IMAX film on the solar system, took a half-hour class on the history of space travel and toured the museum’s exhibits. The museum docents – including retired engineers, pilots or former military members – provided the students with a wealth of information about every exhibit as well as personal knowledge about the field of engineering.  

“Many of my robotics and CAD students are aspiring engineers and I wanted to provide them with an opportunity to celebrate the deep history of engineering and aerospace design that was done here on Long Island,” Connell said.

“Visiting the Cradle of Aviation was a lot of fun, and it was quite informative,” said senior Sophia Bates. “As an aspiring engineer, getting to walk around and see the exhibits and airplanes was an awesome experience.”

“Over the summer, I visited Washington, DC and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum,” said sophomore James Mendolia. “However, I feel that my experience at the Cradle of Aviation was far better and more informative because the docents where able to have a conversation with me and talk about the history of these planes on a deeper level. Most were pilots or engineers who flew or built the planes, so they had a more extensive knowledge, making this trip an even more amazing experience.”


STEAM Snowflakes Created at Timber Point

Second graders at Timber Point recently learned the science behind the formation of snowflakes and how no two snowflakes are alike. The students then created their own 3D snowflakes in the school’s STEAM program focusing on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

Dissecting Owl Pellets at JFK

JFK fourth graders recently dissected owl pellets, classifying the skeletal remains found in the pellets in order to learn about food chains and discover the birds’ eating habits.

RCK Awarded Mini Grant for Code Your Hero

In advance of Computer Science Education Week, RCK’s library recently received a $300 mini grant from the American Library Association to run the Code Your Hero activity using Google’s CS First Hour of Code. Honoring the everyday heroes in students’ lives and communities, Code Your Hero gives students a powerful opportunity to use their imaginations to turn those real-life heroes into superheroes using code.  


High School Science Students Observe Wildlife at Wertheim

High school students in Lauren Ferlin’s AP environmental science class recently visited Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley, one of 10 national wildlife refuges on Long Island.

During the field trip, the students took a guided hike where they observed wildlife including several species of turtles, hawks, muskrats, snakes, birds and insects. After the tour, students went kayaking down Carmans River, where they explored the estuary environment. While on the river, students observe many other animals including snapping turtles, fish, crabs, shrimp, barn swallows, egrets, ospreys and herons. 

“For many of my students, this was their first time in a kayak,” Ferlin said. “It was most definitely a memorable experience.”


Getting With the Quail Program

Students in Lauren Ferlin’s AP Environmental Science class at the high school recently participated in the Seatuck Environmental Association’s bobwhite quail program. For approximately 23 days, the students monitored the progress of 12 quail eggs in an incubator, after which seven of the eggs successfully hatched. The quail were kept in the classroom during the next few weeks and brought home with students on the weekends. The quail were then returned to Seatuck for release. 

“In the wild, quail have very high mortality rates and this program gives the quail population a chance to be successful,” said Ferlin. “An additional benefit to the ecosystem is that quail eat ticks, so by reestablishing the quail population we are introducing a natural predator at Seatuck and the number of ticks will be reduced without the use of chemical pesticides.”


Eighth Grade Trio Earn Math Award

The middle school Math League’s eighth grade team of Rachel Furey, David Serino, and Marisa Triolo were recently recognized at the Suffolk County Math Teachers’ Association Math Awards dinner for achieving the highest score in their division. Throughout the year, students compete in math competitions against other schools in the area.

“We are very proud of their hard work and dedication to math and Math League all year long,” said teacher Alyssa Tripi. “They are an outstanding group of students, and we look forward to seeing their future accolades. 



JFK's Lemke Wins Science Fair Award

William Lemke, a fourth grader at JFK, won an “Honorable Mention” award at the Brookhaven National Laboratory Elementary Science Fair Competition, held on May 4. Lemke’s project was titled “Reducing Boat Barnacles.”



Showcasing STEAM at East Islip

More than 350 community members participated in the district’s second annual STEAM/Robotics Festival, held at the high school on March 27. The exciting evening event, open to all students from kindergartners through seniors, featured diverse science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics activities and showcased the district’s current STEAM and robotics programs.

Student groups taking part included the high school and middle school STEM Clubs, the high school’s Chess Club, and science fair winners from JFK and RCK. Also in attendance were members of the East Islip Chamber of Commerce, representatives from East Islip Public Library, Solar Dad and Sons, Long Island University, Good Samaritan Hospital and Northwell Health, and numerous vendors and business organizations.

“This event was created to show students of all ages that STEAM is where they should begin to start looking for their future careers,” said East Islip Guidance Director Israel Malinowitzer, who co-coordinated the festival with teacher Genesis Dawson. “This field is in dire need of workers and schools need to start promoting these programs and educating our students about the importance of STEAM and all the skills that they need to develop and learn in order to be successful in their future endeavors. We are also trying to encourage our students to get their education and continue to stay on Long Island and raise their families here.”


RCK Enjoys Two Weeks of March Mathness

The entire student body at RCK gathered in the gym as teacher Robert Chiarelli launched the school’s fourth year of March Mathness. Teachers shot baskets as students skip-counted while the band played classic stadium anthems. For the following two weeks, students competed – both in and out of school – on IXL’s web-based math platform, working on algebra, geometry, numbers and operations. 


MS Math League Competes in Challenging Tournament

Five students in the middle school’s Math League – Muhammad Abdullah, Rachel Furey, Krina Patel, Khushnood Rahim and Marisa Triolo – participated in a math tournament at North Shore Middle School in Glen Cove on April 5, competing in a series of STEM challenges as well as team and individual math contests. They worked with each other and were also split up into teams consisting of students from different Long Island schools. Rahim’s team won first place out of the 210 students involved.

“This was the first time the Math League participated in an event like this, so it was an exciting afternoon for the students,” said teacher Alyssa Tripi. “The questions they were given were incredibly challenging and we are very proud of the effort and diligence they put into this tournament.”


RCK Selects Science Fair Winners

Young scientists at RCK put on their thinking caps to concoct an exciting array of projects for the school’s annual fourth-grade science fair. Charlotte Galli was the winner for her project “My Dog Ate My Homework.” Jacob Crowell was the runner-up for his work on “Fortnite Brain Rot,” while Kate Habel (“Is Your Dog’s Mouth Cleaner than Yours?” and Juliana Schmidt (“Are Your Hands Clean?”) earned honorable mention.

Galli will represent RCK at the Brookhaven National Laboratory Elementary Science Fair Competition, held on May 4 at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton.

Anatomy Students Get Certified in CPR

Juniors and seniors in high school science teacher Genesis Dawson’s human anatomy and physiology classes recently stayed after school to complete a CPR AED advanced first aid certification course.

East Islip’s human anatomy and physiology class, accredited for college credit through SUNY Farmingdale, emphasizes becoming familiar with each major body system and the anatomical structures as well as various types of equipment and techniques involved in diagnosing and treating immediate injury and disease. The students are now officially certified following American Heart Association guidelines

“This course helped the students gain the skills to help adults and children during medical, breathing, and cardiac emergencies,” said Dawson. “Between both the lecture and hands-on skills sessions, this class gave students time to become accustomed to the simple techniques and ask questions.”

“I feel that in taking the course, I was able to actually apply what I have been learning in class to a real-life scenario,” said senior Isabella Pasha. “It is important to us, especially in the field of medicine, to learn the fundamentals at an early stage. Ms. Dawson and our course instructor really helped us understand the processes and get a good hands-on experience.” 


JFK Learns to Protect Local Waters

Young scientists at JFK are learning important lessons this year from representatives of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. During a recent CCE visit, fifth-graders enjoyed a “Stormwater Superheroes” presentation in which they learned about ways to help keep local bays and watersheds clean, how harmful pollution is to marine life in the area, and how a storm drain system can help. The students also participated in hands-on science activities and met a friendly horseshoe crab.

“It was wonderful to see how eager our students were to learn about how critical it is to protect the water around us,” said Principal Deborah Smith. “They realized that it is vital to become responsible citizens who are aware of harmful pollutants and the negative impact they can have on our environments.”


Research Students Study River Health

Students in Lauren Ferlin’s and Lisa Carpenito’s Honors Research classes at the high school recently participated in the “A Day in the Life of a River” program, traveling to Bayard Cutting Arboretum to study the health of the Connetquot River ecosystem.

During the program, which is coordinated by Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Central Pine Barrens Commission, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Water Authority, students gathered data by collecting and identifying biological samples, performing chemical analyses of water samples, and collecting physical data and performing analyses of the river bottom. When uploaded to the program database, the data will provide a snapshot of a typical day in the life of the Connetquot River.  


East Islip’s Secondary Superheroes of Pi

Pi Day, honoring the infinitely repeating mathematical symbol for the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is celebrated on March 14 every year in the district. For this year’s event, all secondary math teachers were given Pi superhero T-shirts as a gift from Math and Science Director Janet Jones, and students learned about the meaning of Pi and challenged each other to recite many digits of this irrational number. 


pi pic

JFK's Sambo Awarded at Science Fair

Landon Sambo, a fourth-grader at JFK, received an honorable mention award at the Brookhaven National Laboratory Elementary School Science Fair on May 5. Sambo’s research project, titled “’C’ for Yourself,” sought to determine which fruit juice had the most vitamin C.

“We are all proud of Landon and the work he put in to this incredible project,” said Principal Deborah Smith.


A “Beacon” of CAD Creativity

High school senior Joe Mignone, a second-year Computer Aided Design student in Hal Kench’s advanced college CAD course, spent the school year’s third quarter designing a scale-model of Beacon Academy in AutoCAD 2015 3D for his Independent Quarter Project. He then printed the model on his own time using the 3D printer at the Smithtown Public Library, and presented it to the class.

Beacon Academy is a location in “RWBY,” an American 3D web series set in the fictional world of Remnant, where young people train to become Huntsmen and Huntresses to protect their world from the creatures of Grimm.

“Joe’s skills with AutoCAD rival my own,” said Kench. “He absorbs all of the functions of the program effortlessly. It has been a real pleasure to watch him master the program over the past two years.”

Mignone will study computer science this fall at Stony Brook University.


Board Celebrates Science Winners at JFK and RCK

During a recent Board of Education meeting, the district honored winners of the annual JFK (Jesse Hodge, Abigail Lemke, Drew McCarthy and Gianna Trager) and RCK (Lilyanna Graney, Frank Muscarello and Michael Stadelman) science fairs.

The students proudly received certificates of achievement from Superintendent John V. Dolan and Board President Christopher Zachry. Accompanying them were Director of Math and Science Janet Jones, JFK Principal Deborah Smith, RCK Principal Hillary Bromberg, and teachers Christine Cirillo, Jessie Ferraro and Kathleen Shaum.

Hodge and Graney will compete at the Brookhaven National Laboratory Elementary School Science Fair on May 6.

Board Celebrates Science Winners at JFK and RCK image


At HS, AP Capstone Proves Challenging and Innovative

Last fall, the high school began its first year with AP Capstone, and the College Board program has proven both challenging and innovative. The program is comprised of two AP courses — AP Seminar and AP Research — and is designed to complement and enhance the discipline-specific study in other AP courses. East Islip was accepted to be an AP Capstone school in the fall of 2015, and was one of less than 700 schools in the United States offering this program during the 2016-2017 school year.

According to Janet Jones, the district’s director of math and science, East Islip’s AP Capstone program provides unique research opportunities that focus on collaborative teamwork and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges.

“It cultivates curious, independent, and collaborative scholars and prepares them to make logical, evidence-based decisions,” said Jones.

The school’s first AP Capstone students are currently taking AP Seminar, and recently began their required practice presentations, researching and presenting arguments for topics such as “Should GMOs Be Funded by Government?” and “Can Humans Reverse the Sixth Extinction?” 

Kathleen Dinota, the teacher of AP Seminar, grouped the students based on possible connections between chosen topics. The students were then asked to collaborate and find solid connections based on facts. These connections were then compiled and put into seamless, professional PowerPoint presentations that accompanied a timed verbal description of the group’s support of their chosen argument.

“Our AP Capstone students spoke with self-assurance, conviction and astuteness thus making them one step ahead of the rest in terms of college and career readiness,” said Jones.



Saturday, September 26, 2020