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Long Island Explorium

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Maker Faire Long Island returned to Port Jefferson village on Saturday, June 11, at the Village Center.

Maker Faire LI is an annual festival held by the Long Island Explorium, a science and engineering museum based in Port Jeff. Its purpose is to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education by way of innovations and crafts of people throughout the region and country. 

Angeline Judex, executive director of the Explorium, discussed the surprising success of the event after its two-year pause. “We’re really happy with this event,” she said. “It has turned out really well — much better than we actually expected.”

Proceeds from the event will support the Explorium’s various educational programs. The goal of these programs is to enliven STEM through activities that are engaging and fun. Judex said the Explorium hopes to inspire young people and nourish a lifelong pursuit of STEM. 

“It’s really important for children to be inspired and excited about STEM at an early age,” Judex said, adding, “We focus on enriching and inspiring children from K-6 so that they get excited about STEM because this is the future.” She added, “We want to support the next generation of leaders and scientists who are going to be inspired to solve some of the challenges in the environments we live in.”

Hundreds of makers gathered at Harborfront Park to showcase their own unique contributions to the field. Sejal Mehra, one of the presenters at the festival, displayed what she has coined “engineering art.” Her works integrate aspects of collage, engineering and sustainability studies under a common discipline.

“I create ‘engineering art,’ which is made from recycling old computer and electronic parts or plastic that would have otherwise ended up in the trash to show the beauty of STEM,” she said. “I’m on a mission to change the face of STEM through art.”

Makers such as Mehra offer the necessary guidance for young people to pursue STEM. Through their example of creativity and ingenuity, young people are challenged to change the world themselves.  

“I think it’s really important to have programs like this one to help inspire young minds into a lifelong pursuit of STEM because you never know when or how something is going to spark their love for STEM,” Mehra said. “It is also great for young minds to be inspired by young adults like myself because we were just in their shoes and can help motivate them to pursue STEM. Without programs like this, the amount of exposure to the field and its vast possibilities and intersections would not be possible.”

Mehra’s artwork is currently for sale and can be purchased through her website or by contacting her via email or Instagram.

Joining Judex was a group of public officials who offered their support for the museum in its mission to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers. New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), a geologist by profession, spoke of the importance of Maker Faire in encouraging young minds to tackle the impending challenges of environmental degradation.

“The purpose of bringing us all together is to enhance this community, to imagine possibilities for all of the people who live here and visit here, and to use our imagination just a little bit,” he said. “One of the things that’s very important is the narrative and theme that are interwoven around protecting the environment. We’re situated here in beautiful Port Jefferson on the edge of the harbor, and it is a beautiful place to remember the importance of sustainability.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) was also present for the event. She thanked the Explorium for providing these services and enriching the community.

“I am pleased to be here to support Maker Faire Long Island once again, to support the Explorium, and encourage children and our residents to explore, to innovate, to use their imagination and encourage ingenuity,” she said. “Thank you for all you do to encourage that in children right here in our own backyard.”

Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) recognized Judex for the work she put into making this annual tradition successful once again and for championing STEM and motivating young people.

“I want to thank you not only for the work you did to bring this event together, but for the work you do all year long to create a fun place for kids to do science, to teach kids, to make it accessible to everybody, to bring science to places where maybe it isn’t, and to find new places to suddenly discover science,” the councilmember said.

Kathianne Snaden, Village of Port Jefferson deputy mayor, thanked the many entities that helped make this event possible once again.

“To all of the volunteers, to all of the makers, to the attendees, to our code department, our parks department and our highway department, without all of you coming together to make an event like this happen, we just couldn’t do it,” she said. “To the Explorium for providing cutting-edge technology, programming and hands-on learning for our children, it is just unmatched in this area.”

Village trustee Rebecca Kassay and her husband volunteered as traffic guards during the event. She called it “a pleasure directing parking.”

“As my husband and I stand and direct parking, we look at the children leaving this event and I asked them, ‘What have you made today?’” the trustee said. “Their faces light up and they show me something they’ve made, whether it’s a magnet, whether it’s a whirligig, whether it’s lip balm.” She continued, “It is so important to empower these young people with the gift of demystifying what is in the world around them.”

Englebright concluded the remarks with an anecdote. When the assemblyman was just 14 years old, his science teacher at the time recommended he attend a junior curator program at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. His decision to heed that advice would reshape the course of his life.

“I became a junior curator and it changed my life,” he said. “The Explorium, this children’s museum, I believe is going to change an awful lot of young people’s lives. Now here I am — with white hair — some years later, and I can tell you of the importance of your programs and the worthiness of everything that you do.”

‘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.

Long Island Explorium

The Long Island Explorium, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson has been selected by the Museum Association of New York (MANY) with 98 museums from across New York State to participate in “Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility”, an IMLS CARES Act grant project designed to help museums impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic share their collections and reach audiences who cannot physically visit their museums. Staff will be trained to use new hardware and software to develop programs that will engage their communities and reach new audiences.

The grant is an in-depth partnership for two years designed to strengthen museum virtual programs. In addition to the training, museums will receive hardware and software equivalent to a $5,000 in-kind donation.

“We are honored to be awarded IMLS CARES act funding and excited to be able to make an impact on the work of our colleagues and their museums across New York State,” said Erika Sanger, MANY Executive Director. “We are living in an age of transition, experiencing a radical shift in our ways of learning and communicating. The group selected captures the diversity of our shared history in NY and our nation. The stories embodied in the museums’ collections and the storytelling talents of their interpretive staff are the heart of the project.”

In this two-year program, museums will identify a program to virtually deliver to their audiences, focusing on developing programs from stories found in their collections that reveal cultural and racial diversity in their communities.“We are ecstatic to receive this award to continue to be responsive and reflective of the diverse communities we aim to reach. We aim to build ​upon a current exhibit, “​Rain Gardens: Linking Water, Wildlife, and Wisdom,” and use technology to develop a video/ audio series that focuses on the rich heritage of the indigenous peoples of Long Island and their contributions to Long Island”, said Angeline Judex, MPA, Executive Director, Long Island Explorium.

“The Long Island Explorium was selected due to our perseverance in the face of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and our commitment to STEM and those in our communities on Long Island and in New York,” explained Lisa Collet Rodriguez, M.S. Director, Digital Media/Marketing, Long Island Explorium. “We are excited to begin working with the Museum Association of New York serving high need communities through this initiative. The program is geared to assist and successfully respond to one of the biggest challenges created by the pandemic: how we reach audiences that cannot visit the Long Island Explorium in person. ​The pandemic has provided the Explorium with an opportunity to re-imagine our program delivery methods and engage our online audiences through meaningful content on a much larger scale.”

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Scenes from the Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire in Port Jefferson Village June 9. Photo by Kyle Barr

For its fifth year, Long Island Explorium’s Maker Faire will be going virtual — but it is still packed with tons of activities for kids of all ages.  

The Port Jefferson-based children’s museum that focuses on science and engineering produces the event, under the license from Make Community LLC, and brings makers near and far to show off their talents. 

On Oct. 16 and 17, the Empire State Maker Faire, a statewide showcase organized by local producers throughout New York State, will share the creative work and technical know-how of all kinds of makers who share a passion for making. 

“We will share the creative work and technical know-how of all kinds of makers who share a passion for making,” said Lisa Collet Rodriguez, the director of digital media and marketing for the explorium. “The event will feature demonstrations, performances and how-to workshops —  everything from 3D printed chocolate, cosplay and robots to programming haunted houses, creating cardboard creations and hacking board games. It will have something for every person and age.”

Normally the faire would be in person, but due to the COVID-19 crisis, the explorium decided to join in on a virtual experience that can go far beyond Port Jefferson. 

“The biggest change comes in the scope and ambition of it all,” she said. “We had to think of a way during this time, to expand the reach and help out the community.”

The faire will stream live on YouTube, in addition to a collection of prerecorded sessions available to the public. 

Rodriguez said that while also reaching a larger audience, the virtual component will allow viewers to see the makers in their natural habitat. 

“It works in our favor as we, for the first time, are able to show you locations and places that a physical faire could not, for example live tours of Maker Spaces,” she said. 

On Friday, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., the faire will cater to students and educators learning in-person, remotely or who are homeschooled. The day will be filled with hands-on activities and demonstration focused around STEM and other aspects of the Maker Movement. 

A full schedule of all the makers, demonstrations and activities is available online at longisland.makerfaire.com

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Scenes from the Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire in Port Jefferson Village June 9. Photo by Kyle Barr

Talking to the conductor once the STEM engine comes to a halt, it’s clear that for nonprofits pushing for education among young people, the track ahead is still uncertain.

Like many nonprofits, the Long Island Explorium in Port Jeff, a small haven for interactive learning on the North Shore, has been hit hard by the pandemic, but since so much of its revenue depends on schools’ field trips, the onus has shifted to a virtual approach. That, however, is something difficult for a learning center that has long emphasized interactivity.

Angeline Judex, the executive director of the explorium, said that once COVID-19 hit Long Island, her space along East Broadway was closed, while her museum employees were furloughed and her volunteers sent home. It would take until the end of April before she finally received her Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government, and she was able to rehire several people to help with administrative tasks. Their PPP loans will likely be exhausted by the end of July, Judex said. 

Meanwhile, all their teaching apparatus was transported online, specifically to video conferencing app Zoom. Keeping some of their regulars who often came to the explorium, they were able to transform one planned field trip into an online field trip, but the vast majority of booked school trips were canceled once the pandemic hit. 

Judex said the situation has made the explorium learn to innovate in new ways. So far they have conducted more than 80 live STEM workshops including a virtual science fair, impacting approximately 120 families and 400 students over the past few months. She said general reaction to the programming has been positive from parents and teachers alike.

“The Explorium will continue to scale up and expand on their virtual offerings over summer and beyond to ensure that students of all means, abilities and needs have access to high quality STEM programming,” she said.

One of the benefits of the last few years is that the explorium has started to diversify its revenue streams, from grants, school districts as well as individual donors. The explorium remains financially solvent, she said, despite the obvious hits from the pandemic. Much of their revenue normally came from their work with local school districts, so depending on how well districts are in the fall, which also depends on whether New York State will slash school aid, could leave the nonprofit without 30 to 40 percent of its normal revenue stream.  

“We’re hoping schools have this one year to get back to normal, and by hopefully next year things will get better again,” Judex said. 

The explorium is tentatively planning to open the museum location in August, though it will only be for private sessions, and how they do will determine if the place remains open for the rest of the fall. If not, then the museum has plans to open again in spring of 2021. Currently, she said the nonprofit has enough funds in the coffers to survive until then.  

“As a children’s museum, it’s supposed to be a high touch environment, but if they’re not allowed to touch anything, what are they going to do?” the executive director said. “That’s a huge challenge for museums everywhere, not only mine.”

After several months of hosting learning online, the challenges of keeping students’ attention became apparent. At first, Judex found their online programs became very popular, then when schools started to catch up with computer-based schoolwork, demand dropped. By April and May, she said students were tired of completing schoolwork on a computer and listening to teachers online. Judex said she’s finding the same challenge with her own children doing schoolwork from home. 

“I think I’m Zoomed out,” Judex said. “Meeting in person, there’s so much more warmth to it, whereas on a screen you have to make due. Several months of making due in virtual meetings, it was just too much.”

The explorium has three virtual summer camps coming up in the next few months, with the first one including 14 kids. The next, Judex estimated, will likely contain just 10 children.

She said her team found hosting a single Zoom call with 30 students to be nearly impossible, and they are loath to sacrifice the quality of their learning apparatus in order to facilitate more kids per group. 

“We’re not compromising on the quality of the experience,” she said.

Still, Judex said the online programs were well-received.

“The pandemic allowed us to focus even more on our mission of meeting the needs of all students regardless of means, abilities and needs as well as advance our strategic plan to explore distance learning,” she said.

Port Jefferson village Mayor Margot Garant said multiple nonprofits in the village have struggled to maintain during the worst months of the pandemic. The building the Long Island Explorium occupies right next to the Village Center is in year 12 of a 20-year lease and they are up to date with their rent at $750 a month. 

The explorium requested some kind of rent relief, and at its July 20 meeting, the village board unanimously voted to reduce the nonprofit’s rent by $250 so as to cover utilities. 

“It’s real tangible support, that every little bit counts,” Judex said.

Towards the end of summer, the explorium is crafting its Reimagining the Future strategic plan with steering committees set up with members of the community. This would outline how our explorium will move forward in the next stage of the pandemic.

One of the most well-known activities for the explorium is the annual Maker Faire in Port Jeff. This year’s event got pushed back from June to September, but this week it was announced that all of maker faires in New York State were combining forces to host the online Empire State Maker Faire Oct. 16 and 17, including demonstrations of art, crafts, technology and robotics. The event is free and open to the public. 

People can offer support to the explorium at: longislandexplorium.org/support-us/ or visit the website for a full list of programs at www.longislandexplorium.org.

This article was updated to include info about the Explorium’s future strategic plans.

This article was updated July 30 to add extra info about the explorium’s online learning live streams.

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.”

While not as bad as last year, village continues plans to reduce water’s impact

The area outside Theatre Three was under 2 feet of water July 22. Photo from Brian Hoerger

July 22 was a sudden reminder of a certain day last year in September, when water ran down Main Street like a river, and parts of Port Jefferson were drowned in water.

The area outside Theatre Three was under 2 feet of water July 22. Photo from Brian Hoerger

Instead, July 22 was a moderate rain by comparison, only hit with 2.35 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service, instead of the more-than 4 inches it received in that last major storm.

Still reeling from massive flash floods that inundated Port Jefferson village last year, those who were most impacted by the September waters said they were more prepared for the high waters this year. 

Brennan Holmes, the chief of the Port Jefferson Fire Department, said they had learned from their mistakes last year, and for the first time put into practice their new flood protocols.

“Last night was a good test,” Holmes said the day after the flooding. “Although there was a lot of water, it went by real quick.”

Last year waters reached nearly 5 feet in the main firehouse, though this year the fire department moved its emergency vehicles from the department building up to the higher ends of Maple Place, but waters didn’t enter the firehouse. The department also made use of a recently converted high-water rescue vehicle, donated by the Miller Place Fire Department. That was available as well as department members in water rescue suits, according to Holmes.

In addition to dealing with the flooding, the department responded to two automatic alarms caused by lightning, three welfare checks on the businesses of Ruvo East, Old Fields Restaurant and Theatre Three, all of which had been hard hit last year. The department also assisted in removing a person from a vehicle which was situated in about a foot of water.

The fire department closed off Main Street for about an hour from around 7 p.m. to a little after 8 p.m. Holmes said this resulted in much less traffic into and out of the village, making it much safer for motorists.

“We fared much better than last September, which we’re really happy about,” the fire chief said.

Mayor Margot Garant was adamant that last year’s high of 4 inches of rain dropped in under an hour plus the high water table led to the described devastation. She said she is especially concerned the idea of Port Jefferson as a flooding town will impact the village’s image and its businesses.

“I think everybody has to think that was such an exceptional event,” she said. “It’s all about the tide. If there had been a coastal storm surge, it would have been a different scenario. It’s a coastal resiliency issue.”

Last September one of the most heavily impacted by the flooding was Theatre Three, which received nearly 4 feet of water in its downstairs area, causing thousands upon thousands of dollars in damage to props, costumes and electrical equipment.

“Nothing like a little flash flood to trigger the old PTSD from the last flood.”

— Brian Hoerger

Brian Hoerger, the facilities manager for the theater, was at the head of last year’s cleanup, coordinating close to 50 volunteers in cleaning up the mess left by that storm. On his Facebook page, Hoerger said seeing the waters roll down Main Street reminded him of the harrowing September flood.

“Nothing like a little flash flood to trigger the old PTSD from the last flood,” Hoerger wrote.

The back doors by Theatre Three had waters rising close to 2 feet, according to the theater facilities manager, though only around 3 inches made its way through the lower doors since he was able to stack sandbags at the breach. Still, pictures showed water was making its way through cracks in the brickwork like sprinklers.

Hoerger, along with Steve Ayle, an actor in the theater, moved the precious theater items to higher ground while helping to vacuum up the muddy liquid in the theater’s lower floor.

Garant responded to Hoerger on Facebook showing him potential flood resistant door panels to resist rain, though Hoerger said much of the water came up from under the building as they sit on a below-ground creek.

What is currently being done to prevent flooding

Three months ago, Port Jefferson officials approved a scoping of the water line that runs and empties into Mill Creek, though Garant said while they wait for the engineers report to return to the village, they believe there is a low point in the line underneath the grass by the basketball courts where a pumping system might be able to help that water flow faster, and not get caught up in and around the low point by those nearby restaurants and Theatre Three.

In June, Campani and Schwarting Architects released a draft version of the Watershed Management and Storm Surge Study. Though the architects have yet to publish a full report, the draft discussed potentially daylighting Mill Creek, along with the culvert at the Brookhaven parking lot by the harbor and the Meadow parking lot. It also mentioned a permeable pavement system in municipal lots, along with rain gardens at low areas such as an expansion of the pond by Old Fields and the Brookhaven parking lot.

Theatre Three suffered damaged to costumes, props and other mechanical equipment back in September 2018. File Photo by Kyle Barr

In June, Port Jefferson Village presented its Waterfront Revitalization Plan to the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, describing its intention to perform immediately needed maintenance of the storm drainage system and provide emergency equipment to deploy in a rain event to protect properties in the village in catastrophic flooding. 

The village would also look to implement long-term projects, including daylighting Mill Creek, reducing impermeable paving throughout the village, introducing bioswales and rain gardens as part of the storm drainage system and redesigning the parking areas at the waterfront to mitigate flooding.

“There’s proactive measures and there’s mitigation measures,” Garant said. “We’re throwing the kitchen sink at the state to help us with these coastal resiliency issues.”

At its July 15 meeting, the village voted unanimously to apply for grant funds not to exceed $1 million from the state Division of Planning’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, Empire State Development and any other applicable state agencies. 

In this case, the village would have to put the money upfront and be paid back from the grant funds at a later date. The deadline for those grants is Friday, July 26.

Garant said that soon the village will be partnering with the Long Island Explorium in Port Jeff in constructing three rain gardens using $43,626 in grant funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund initiative. These will be located in front of Village Hall, at Village Center and a final one in the traffic barrier next to the loading ramp for the ferry.

Many who attended the 4th annual Eastern Long Island Mini Maker’s Faire in Port Jefferson were first greeted to was a bear — hulking, rusted statue of a bear with arms of wood and corroded steel, a torso of used tires and organs made from oil filters and oil sumps. In the center of his chest was a cow heart suspended in formaldehyde.

“Bear” the sculpture by local team Dirt People Studios, was just one of many demonstrations of science, art and ingenuity at the fair, hosted by the nonprofit Long Island Explorium.

Scientists demonstrated the dangers of storm surges on Long Island, while robotics teams from Stony Brook University and other local high schools showed off what they have worked on for the past year.

Local DiYers like Jim Mason of LB Robotics, a maker of strange and interesting robotics, showed his work with a 3D printer and his projects using parts and tools he has found around his home.

“The music, the sun, the fun and play, see ya next year, Robo say,” Mason posted to his Facebook page.

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