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It's been a busy couple of weeks in local public schools.

Here are some of the activities schools have been up to or are planning:

Free eye exams

In recognition of School Vision Month in October, Fort Edward Union Free School District partnered with the New York State Optometric Association, VSP Global and the New York State Society of Opticians to provide free eye exams and glasses to students.

The eye exams took place at Fort Edward School and were conducted by volunteers of the New York State Optometric Association.

The New York State Education Department coordinated the no-cost eye exams. With their help, Fort Edward UFSD worked with local optometrists including VSP network doctors who used portable eye exam equipment donated by VSP Vision Care. They also donated eyeglasses to each student who needed glasses. Local ophthalmic dispensers will volunteer their time at Fort Edward UFSD and deliver selected frames and provide necessary fittings for their students.

Bridges for Billy Goats

The Three Billy Goats Gruff will be able to cross the river safely without interference from the troll due to a special collaboration between Lake George kindergartners and Lake George High School seniors.

This year, high school seniors volunteered to help kindergartners with hands-on STEM experiments one time per month. During their first meeting, they sketched designs for a bridge to help the billy goats cross the river so the troll wouldn’t harm them. The experiment coincided with the famous Norwegian folk-tale the kindergartners recently read called The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

“The kindergartners were very familiar with the story because they sang songs and acted out the story with puppets,” said kindergarten teacher Susan Hendry.

The seniors helped the kindergartners build bridges out of Legos, Lincoln Logs, and paper towel inserts. Each group chose a person to explain their bridge concept and demonstrate how the goats would climb, slide, hop, or drive in a car across the bridge in order to avoid the troll beneath.

The KinderSenior program is coordinated by Kindergarten teacher Kim O’Connell and guidance and counseling department chair Rosemarie Earl. In all, 14 seniors volunteered to be part of the program

Next month will be a hibernation project in which the seniors will help the kindergartners build dens for animals for the winter.

FAFSA night at Granville

Granville High School will host an FAFSA Completion Night Nov. 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the high school computer lab, room 140. This is an opportunity for students and their families needing assistance completing their FAFSA forms in order to qualify for financial aid for college and technical schools.

Families need to call the high school guidance office by Friday to schedule a 30-minute appointment with a financial aid/admissions representative from SUNY Adirondack or Castleton University. The phone number is 518-642-1051 ext. 2308.

An FSA ID is required for the student and one parent and is recommended it be obtained prior to the appointment. The website is fsaid.ed.gov. A checklist of additional items to bring can be found on the school’s website www.granvillecsd.org under “Parents.”

Winning at marbles

Eighth grade students in Cathy Kilby’s Technology 8 class at Granville Junior-Senior High were recently challenged to design and build marble mazes. The goal was to build a structure that would produce the slowest time for a marble to roll from start to finish. The students teamed up in pairs and all were given the same instructions and materials to use, consisting of six pieces of card stock, scissors, a ruler, tape and glue. They also had to incorporate three simple machine elements they had just learned about in a previous unit. Before any construction could begin each team had to submit their blueprint.

The students learned that what a project looks like on paper doesn’t not always turn out as expected and sometimes revisions to a plan are necessary for success. A video featuring the students and their amazing mazes can be seen by visiting www.granvillecsd.org. On the home page look to the right under “Spotlights.”

Mining the moon

Two retired teachers from Salem Central School District have collaborated with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to offer a seven-week MakerSpace program for students in grades five and six. The program teaches students about space exploration and moon-based mining operations.

Throughout the seven-week program, 10 to 12 year old students investigate, design, and document specific equipment and facilities needed to carry out a mock mining operation on the moon. They also learn about electrons, simple parallel and series circuits, electromagnets, motors, generators, gear ratios, and facts about the moon.

“Leading week one activities were Phil Mitchell, Kay Russell, Judy Bardin, and my brother, Peter Duveen,” said retired Salem CSD Physics Teacher Charlie Duveen, who leads the program with retired Salem CSD English teacher Judy Bardin.

The program is being held at the Salem Courthouse Community Center.

You can read Bill Toscano's blog at poststar.com/blogs or his updates on Twitter, @billtoscano_ps.

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