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Angeline Judex

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Village officials, members of the chamber of commerce, locals and members of the Long Island Explorium christen the new sensory garden. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

A new sensory garden has been installed outside the Long Island Explorium in Port Jefferson, hoping to give those passing through the village an educational and therapeutic experience. 

Bruce D’Abramo, village trustee, Barbara Ransom, director of operations, Port Jefferson
Chamber of Commerce, Angeline Judex, executive director of the Long Island
Explorium, Jackie Grennon Brooks, senior advisor of the Long Island Explorium, Ellen
Kushner, treasurer of Decision Women in Commerce and Professions, Chelsea Finn,
board member of the Long Island Explorium, Shelia Wieber, board member of Decision
Women in Commerce and Professions, cut the ribbon on the new garden. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Sensory gardens are outdoor environments with flower aromas, plant colors, kinetic sculptures and interactive devices that encourage sensory play, learning and experience using all senses. 

“These gardens have been shown to offer a range of health, therapeutic and educational benefits to all visitors, with particular benefits to children with sensory challenges, especially those on the autistic spectrum,” said Angeline Judex, executive director of the explorium.

For the past year, the explorium has been working toward creating the space on its front lawn. It all began when Ellen Kushner, treasurer of Decision Women in Commerce and Professions, brought her grandchildren there to play last December. 

“I was so impressed with it and they had so much fun,” she said, “I thought to myself that we absolutely had to get involved and give the explorium some funding.” 

She said everyone at Decision was on board with the idea to fund the garden, and at the organization’s 40th anniversary dinner in June they gifted the
explorium the grant. 

The garden took about $2,000 to create and has been made possible by Decision’s funding, along with a donation and consultation from Port Jefferson Station-based Kunz Greenhouses as well as the village gardener, Caran Markson.

The garden transformed the grass that was originally outside, now including a solar fountain, a pathway of stones and several dozen types of plant species. The garden is more than 70 percent native, with flowers, leaves and stalks that provide food and habitats for wildlife, deep-root systems that purify water along with beauty that nurtures the senses. 

“We specifically wanted plants that appeal to the five senses,” said Jacqueline Grennon Brooks, senior adviser to the explorium. “We wanted them to be visually interesting with the variety of fragrances and textures … ones that produce sound when swaying or when touched, and herbs or plants with edibles parts.”

Village officials, members of the chamber of commerce, locals and members of the Long Island Explorium christen the new sensory garden. Photo by Julianne Mosher

She added, “Research indicates that at the 70 percent native mark, we can reestablish important insect and bird populations.”

Although it’s helpful to the environment, village Trustee Bruce D’Abramo loved the idea that kids can come to the garden and do what they want. 

“You don’t have to tell them what to do,” he said. “They make the decisions.”

He added that the space is going to be seen by all walking through the village. 

“This area gets a lot of foot traffic,” he said. “Just last weekend at the Dragon Boat Race Festival, 2,500 people walked right past this park.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the garden Sept. 17, and will be open year round, even when the explorium is closed. 

“People should come visit and be amazed by the transformation of our front yard into a delightful garden that both teaches and brings joy to everyone,” Judex said. ”I love seeing how people get excited about the sensory garden and want to create one in their own yard.”

By David Luces

For the fourth year running, the “greatest show and tell on Earth,” the Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire, returns to the Village of Port Jefferson on June 8 and will once again be the epicenter of innovation, experimentation and lots of fun.

The Maker Faire, hosted by the Long Island Explorium, will take place in the explorium’s building, all three floors of the Port Jefferson Village Center and spill outside onto the nearby Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park. Makers from Long Island and beyond will congregate at the faire to showcase innovative robotics, kinetic and interactive art, fine sculptures and woodworking among others that will celebrate the boundary pushing worlds of science, technology, engineering, music, art and math. 

Last year over 100 makers and 2,000 visitors of all ages participated in the faire. Lisa Rodriguez, digital media manager for the explorium, said they expect more visitors this year and currently have 92 makers and counting as well as 13 roaming scientists.

“Anybody who is a maker will be there,” said Rodriguez in a recent phone interview. “It will be amazing [for visitors and makers] to be able to interact with so many different walks of life.

Angeline Judex, executive director of the explorium, said the faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. “It allows the community to experience firsthand how textbook science can translate into innovative solutions that can solve future challenges,” she said.

A featured performer this year will be lifetime professional physics demonstrator David Maiullo of “That Physics Show” who looks to bring his scientific “magic” to Port Jeff from his Off-Broadway performances in New York City. Maiullo’s performances are dubbed as a scientific cross between the Blue Man Group and The Gazillion Bubble Show.

The collective trio of Dirt People Studios will also make an appearance at this year’s faire to showcase a 10-foot, 2,000-pound bear with a heart, circulatory system, lungs and stomach. The anatomically correct statue was built by recycling and reusing a combination of organic and inorganic materials and putting them together like puzzle pieces. 

For the younger crowd, Rizuki Cosplay will feature favorite science fiction characters and offer classes on makeup, wigs, posing and much more. Also returning this year will be the Endor Temple Saber Guild to teach kids and adults the art of lightsaber choreography. 

Judex said the faire allows visitors to experience firsthand the importance of STEAM as well as inspire future makers of tomorrow. “It is important to inspire the future generation and help them see their education as a means of making the world a better place to live,” the executive director said. “The community is beginning to realize, appreciate and embrace how STEAM is an integral part of our society, environment and way of life.”

Judex said the best part of the event in her opinion is the fascination and wonder you can experience from interacting with the maker and fellow visitors. “It’s a full day of fun and learning that is transformative for both the young and the not so young,” she said.

The Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire 2019 will be hosted by the Long Island Explorium, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson on Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person at the door. The event is held rain or shine. For more information, call 631-331-3277 or visit www.longislandexplorium.org.

Photos courtesy of the Long Island Explorium

TBR News Media publisher Leah Dunaief, center, with this year's honorees

The 2018 TBR News Media People of the Year in Brookhaven were honored at the Three Village Inn in Stony Brook on March 24.

Publisher Leah Dunaief presented the awards to Linda Johnson, Gloria Rocchio, Brian Hoerger, Andrew Harris, Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr., Heather Lynch, Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association, Susan Delgado, Angeline Judex, Janet Godfrey, Gina Mingoia, Boy Scout Troop 161 and Boy Scout Troop 204 at the event.

TBR News Media would like to thank Stony Brook University, the Three Village Inn, Dan Laffitte and the Lessing Family for sponsoring the reception, the Setauket Frame Shop for framing the award certificates, and Beverly Tyler for being our event photographer.

Angeline Judex stands with New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright at the 2018 Eastern Long Island Mini Maker’s Faire. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr

kyle@tbrnewsmedia.com

At a glance, the Long Island Explorium building looks like an old-school log cabin compared to the great glass facade of the neighboring Port Jefferson Village Center and the rustic townhouses or surrounding businesses.

Angeline Judex

If anything, both the building and the Long Island Explorium program, which brings in school-aged children from all across Long Island in education programs, stand out. They have stood out in no small part thanks to Angeline Judex, the executive director of the explorium.

Judex has been a part of the Port Jefferson program for close to two years. “She has a great desire to work with people, and she’s very honoring of other people’s perspectives,” said Jacqueline Grennon Brooks, the president of the Long Island Explorium. “Through that dialogue with people is how we can achieve these goals.”

Every year the explorium welcomes close to 10,000 young students through its doors. Inside is a number of puzzles and interlocking machinery, all part of a teaching philosophy called constructionism, which asks young people to use ingenuity and logic to solve problems on their own.

“She’s made her program very successful, and she’s brought in students from all over Long Island,” Port Jeff trustee Bruce D’Abramo said. “She’s one of the reasons that Port Jefferson is a place for learning and life sciences.”

The explorium has become a lightning rod for STEAM education and creativity in Port Jefferson since it was created in 2004, then bearing the name The Maritime Explorium. Since then, programs have expanded outward from Port Jeff, but the most sizable events still happen within Port Jeff Village, often spilling out from its log cabin building and onto Harborfront Park. In November the explorium received $43,626 in grant funds to install native plant rain gardens in high visibility areas such as in front of its building on East Broadway and the corner of East Broadway and Main Street.

While the Mini Maker’s Faire had its fourth year in 2018, under Judex, the event gained official status with the larger Makers Faire organization. The past two events brought thousands of people to the village who experienced many things from amateur DIY robotics to Colonial-era cooking and blacksmithing. Now expanding on the idea, the executive director has brought in past faire participants for “makers spotlights,” which show guests at the explorium their projects and explain to them how they created them.

“I have found her to be very personable, very organized and very focused,” said village administrator Robert Juliano. “She has a sunny disposition and always looking to make things better for the explorium and the community.”

Angeline Angeline Judex receives a grant from Edward Palleschi of the Long Island Community Foundation. Photo by Kyle Barr

In August 2017 the explorium hosted a watching party for the total eclipse of the sun. Even then, with so many heads turned to the sky, the explorium was pushing the scientific impact of the event by having those who attended help to accumulate scientific data to be used by researchers across the country. Children of all ages charted the temperature, percentage of the sky covered by clouds, the color of the sky and the visibility of the sun every five minutes until the conclusion of the eclipse. All the data was collected and sent to NASA.

Brooks said since Judex has become the executive director, the explorium has focused more and more on outreach outside the Port Jeff community. The explorium hosts outreach programs for public school teachers called Educate the Educators that sends explorium staff out to school districts such as William Floyd to help those teachers embrace problem-based education techniques, often on a small budget. In the past instead of simply teaching kids about earthquakes with pictures and PowerPoints, Judex used gelatin and had kids build houses that could resist the constant trembling.

“Because of economics, going out on field trips is being done much less than it has been done in the past, so what we do is we bring our program to school,” Brooks said. “This takes the explorium model to other aspects of their teaching program.”

Judex and the explorium are not slowing down either. The Mini Maker’s Faire will return next year, and the executive director already has plans to make additions to the building interior, working with a local Girl Scout to create a programmable robotic hand.

If anything, Judex and the explorium have become much less of a hidden gem, and more of a shining jewel in the Port Jefferson community.

Costume maker Tom DePetrillo will return this year as the Marvel Comics Giant Hulkbuster. Photo from Angeline Judex

By Kyle Barr

Creativity, innovation, experimentation and a whole lot of fun are all on the menu as the Village of Port Jefferson gears up for the third annual Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire to be held on June 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Hosted by the nonprofit Long Island Explorium (formerly the Maritime Explorium) and the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, the event will take place at the Explorium, all three floors of the Port Jefferson Village Center and spill out onto the adjacent Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park as makers from all over Long Island and beyond will come bringing robots, music, woodworking, metal sculptures and practically anything handmade to celebrate the exciting worlds of science, technology, engineering, music, art and math.

Last year the event drew more than 2,000 visitors who were able to experience everything from 3-D printing to flame belching metal sculptures. 

Ray Rumore with his robot ‘Volt’ at last year’s Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Chris Rumore

Angeline Judex, executive director of the Explorium in Port Jefferson, said she expects close to 60 “Makers” will be there for this year’s event. “At this event, people are able to explore new concepts and technologies, take [this knowledge] home with them and then dive into their own exploration and engagement to create their own maker experience,” Judex said in an email. “It transforms theory into reality. It excites, inspires and motivates the next generation to embrace STEM as a resource for innovative problem solving.”

New this year will be the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra featuring students from the Waldorf School in Garden City using carrots, squash and gourds as musical instruments and a visit from the Suffolk County Chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which will demonstrate how trades such as blacksmithing, inks and paints and naval shipbuilding technology have evolved over time. 

Returning this year will be costume maker Tom DePetrillo from Rhode Island-based Extreme Costumes who dazzled participants in last year’s Makers Faire with his burly Transformers Bumblebee costume. This year he will be bringing a to-scale HulkBuster Iron Man suit seen in the movies “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

“People really enjoy the giant costumes,” said DePetrillo. 

The Hulkbuster costume took 10 months and approximately 1,600 man hours to complete. DePetrillo tours all over the world with his giant designs as a full-time job. It enables him to keep making and creating. “It allows me to have an outlet for my creative energy,” he said. “I do this because I love doing it.”

Father and son team Chris and Ray Rumore have been attending the Mini Maker Faire every year since its inception. Ray Rumore got involved with 3-D printing, crafting and robotics, and created a robot named “Volt,” a companion robot who can follow him around and live stream events with his on-board camera.

“Ray enjoys three main things about Maker Faires — they allow him the opportunity to encourage others to join the fun and become a Maker, the opportunity to meet other Makers and learning about their creations and the food,” the elder Rumore said in an email.

The event is sponsored in part by Stony Brook University, BASF Chemical Company, Capital One, Riverhead Building Supplies and Suffolk County Community College.

The Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire will be held on June 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine, at the Maritime Explorium, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson. Tickets, which are $10 per person, are available online at www.easternlongislandmakerfaire.com and at the door. Parking will be available around the Village of Port Jefferson, Off Street Parking, Brookhaven Town Lot as well as Spring Street. The Port Jeff Jitney will be running during the day. For further information, please call 631-331-3277.