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‘Worm Game, 17 Cells’ by Zachary White hangs in the window of the Explorium. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Over the last several weeks, the Long Island Explorium, located at Port Jeff Harbor, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson, has been serving up something different. 

“New Growth 1” by Han Qin

Known for their hands-on maker space that allows kids of all ages to learn concepts in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), the nonprofit mixes fun with technology and science. However, until mid-June, the Explorium has been turned into an art gallery.

Angeline Judex, executive director, said the idea to create a collaborative experience at the space came not even two months ago. The idea behind the eight-week-long exhibit titled The Resilience Project revolves around the perseverance and resilience of the human spirit during these challenging times. 

“It’s really symbolic,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, we’ve got to learn something from this whole craziness.”

In collaboration with lead artist, Tali Hinkis — also known as LoVid, with Kyle Lapidus — the Explorium has become home to works of art inspired by nature and science by eight different artists, local and international. 

“Their artistic creations capture visitors visually as well as engage the mind in exploring issues of social change, environmental justice and the intersection of art and technology,” Hinkis said.

All artworks on display will be sold to support the Explorium’s STEAM programming targeted at students in need and, each week, one artist will be featured alongside an interactive STEM activity for all visitors.

‘Profile Site Flag #3 (Prospect Park, Brooklyn)’ by Brooke Singer

“This unique collaboration seeks to capture the essence of nature as it grows and survives the elements,” Judex said. “We know that science helps push the boundaries of what is possible. Hence, we too will grow, survive and push through challenges.”

This weekend, for example, under the theme of Dye-ing up a Storm!, the interactive activity uses natural dyes, and helps celebrate artist Brooke Singer’s piece, “Site Profile Flag,” which uses the physical, biological and chemical properties of soil to create brightly colored flags. 

Visitors on Saturday, May 22, and on Sunday can use pigments found in nature with a little bit of heat and have the opportunity to use the textile dyes for themselves.

The Resilience Project kicked off April 23 and will continue through June 13. 

The Long Island Explorium was recently awarded a grant to help keep girls and young women in STEM fields. Photo from Explorium.

It’s time to break the stigma. 

The Long Island Explorium recently announced they were selected by the Association of Science and Technology Centers — along with 27 museums across the country — to participate in IF/THEN Gender Equity Grants, an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies.

More than $300,000 is being awarded to ASTC-member science and technology centers and museums, seeking to address equity in gender representation across museum content and launch projects that increase the representation of women and gender minorities in STEM, as part of their broader efforts to advance diversity, accessibility and inclusion.

Executive Director of the Explorium Angeline Judex said the grant will help fund a multitude of different projects that will help amplify gender representation in STEM and enhance their workshops within the community and in schools. 

IF/THEN. Photo from the Long Island Explorium

The Long Island Explorium, located at 101 E Main Street, is a 501c3 nonprofit, and is chartered with the New York State Department of Education. Their vision is to be a leader in STEM discovery, learning and innovations to shape future generations, allowing children in kindergarten through grade six to express themselves as future leaders and innovators. 

“Our museum is small in footprint, but our impact is huge,” Judex said. “I’m excited because the grant validates all the impactful work we have done in the past to support young girls in science forward. We’re extremely honored.”

STEM, like many other fields, have been associated as a male-dominated career. The IF/THEN organization strives to get more girls and young women into the science, technology and engineering paths.

“We’re all helping to change the cultural mindset of what is acceptable, what is right, what is not right and who belongs where,” Judex said. “And now we’re part of that journey to encourage and promote gender equity.”

With the mindset of “If you can see it, you can be it,” Judex said the change won’t be easy. “There’s no a magic button that resets to this new normal,” she said. “But it’s a journey we want to be on.”

Judex said she believes young girls can succeed as scientists and innovators in STEM. 

“Girls and young women do have a seat at the table,” she said.

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Matthew Chan in front of the magnetic ball track. Photo from Angeline Judex

Matthew Chan, a Comsewogue High School senior and Boy Scout in Troop 354, has volunteered at the Long Island Explorium since seventh grade. Now in his last year of high school, he took his help one step further when he constructed a magnetic ball track for the Port Jefferson nonprofit.

Boy Scouts looking to gain their Eagle Scout recognition often provide a service to the community, whether it’s reconstructing fences, planting trees, building benches or painting old buildings. 

The Comsewogue High School senior took it a step further and constructed a magnetic ball run at the Long Island Explorium. It allows children to create their own looping track where they can send a small marble careening down a path of their own design.

“I thought about how I could make my project very hands on,” Chan said.

In order for a Boy Scout to make the rank of Eagle Scout, he first has to perform a service project in the community. The Port Jefferson Station resident used his Eagle Scout project as an opportunity to aid the explorium even further. Three years ago, the explorium underwent renovations, including installing two large steel sheets on one of the walls. This was all part of an idea hatched by Angeline Judex, the executive director of the explorium, and Chan to create this ball run.

A young kid creates his own track for a marble to run through. Photo from Angeline Judex

“The Explorium is always pleased to work with Boys and Girls Scouts to help them develop skills and experience to become leaders of the future,” said Judex. “Matt’s project added tremendous value to the Explorium. The giant magnetic ball run helps promote STEM learning in a fun and engaging manner that is enjoyed by visitors of all ages.”

The project took quite a bit of time to come about. While Chan proposed the project initially in November of 2017, it took until May 2018 for him to gather all the materials together. In June of that year, he gathered around 15 other Boy Scouts to help him construct the track. The Scouts drilled holes in planks of wood where they could affix the magnets, then drilled holes in PVC pipe, some pieces cut horizontally in half. When it was all installed by late 2018, Chan got to witness firsthand children using, playing and learning with his creation.

“I think it encourages a lot of creativity,” he said. “It trains kids to think for themselves and create their own solutions.”

Troopmaster of troop 354 Bob Pearsall said he was proud of what Chan was able to do at the Explorium.

“His eighteenth birthday is March 22, and he has to finish up his paperwork and hand it in before then to make the Eagle Scout rank official, and we will make sure he does that,” Pearsall said.

Chans court of honor will come up in the next few months, with a date and time still to be determined.

The senior is expecting to graduate come June. From there he is looking forward to attending The College at Brockport where he will enroll in its nursing program.

“The Boy Scouts has a lot to do with first aid and life saving,” the Eagle Scout said. “I was a lifeguard, and I used to be very interested in first aid and health. I thought helping people through nursing would be a very good career path for me.”