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Maritime Explorium

On a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon, members of the community young and old had the chance to get outside and exercise their imagination at the third Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. The popular event, hosted by the Port Jefferson Maritime Explorium June 10, saw demonstrations using robots, interactive activities, exhibits and performances from various “makers” at the Village Center and outside at Harborfront Park.

The Port Jeff maker faire is a scaled down version of the larger Maker Faire brand, which hosts worldwide events similar to the one in Port Jeff. According to the Maritime Explorium’s website, more than 100 makers and 2,000 participants attended the 2016 Mini Maker Faire, and even more were projected to show up this year, although final totals were not readily available.

Some of the makers on display included Funtown Studios, which brought an interactive fireball sculpture; robotics teams from the Sachem and Smithtown school districts; electricity and magnetism demonstrations by representatives from the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham; an underwater robotic demonstration by SeaPerch; representatives from Stony Brook iCREATE, an innovation facility designed to encourage “innovation and entrepreneurial nature” of the Stony Brook University campus community; and many more.

Before the 2016 faire, Stephanie Buffa, a volunteer board member at the Explorium, explained the importance of the message of the event and the museum as a whole.

“Everything is at our fingertips,” she said in a phone interview. “If you’re sitting at the dinner table and somebody asks a question, you ‘Google’ it. It’s so easy to get answers that way…it’s so easy to get caught up in all of these pre-packaged things that we forget to sort of, do it yourself. You can be creative in so many ways. You don’t have to be a good artist and be able to draw beautiful pictures to be creative and to make things.”

Lauren Hubbard, founding president and former executive director of The Maritime Explorium, who is listed as a producer of the faire, said the day was a success, though attendance numbers are not available as of yet. She said in a phone interview the goal of the event is to show local people of all ages they have the creativity to be makers.

“It’s really about highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for young people to see how that process happens, how to create something completely new.”

Learn how to transform your yard into a wildlife-friendly habitat at one of 12 free workshops offered. Photo courtesy of Jay Gammill

By Ellen Barcel

The Maritime Explorium, a nonprofit organization based in Port Jefferson and dedicated to science-themed exhibits and activities, will be holding a very special series of workshops dedicated to helping gardeners “transform 100 square feet of your yard into a butterfly, bee and bird friendly habitat that keeps our waterways clean and clear …”

Lauren Hubbard, founding president and former executive director of The Maritime Explorium is the program director. She noted that there are a number of reasons for transforming part of your yard into a wildlife-friendly habitat, and there are many ecological benefits to using native plants.

“They provide food for pollinators as well as food for birds,” she said. It is these very pollinators that guarantee the seeds for the next generation of plants and that farmers rely on to produce our food. She noted that native plants don’t required fertilizers. This reduces the runoff of nitrogen [from chemical fertilizers] into the surrounding waters. Excess nitrogen leads to poor water quality, which for one thing affects eel grass which is a fish nursery. Excess nitrogen also increases algae in the Sound.

Hubbard added that native plants have roots that go very deep, that is, many have taproots. They need less supplemental water from the gardener and they catch runoff of excess rain. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and other varieties of milkweed, for example, have a taproot. And, many, like the New England aster, are deer resistant. Native plants also feed native birds, who also eat many of the garden pests, insects, for example, that damage our gardens.

Each project participant registers for only one workshop, but to make the workshops and project convenient, they are spread over the next six months and are held at two locations. Those at the Flax Pond Marine Laboratory in Old Field are held on Saturdays (Jan. 28, Feb. 18, March 25, April 29, May 27 and June 24). Those at The Barn at Avalon Park and Preserve in Stony Brook (off Shep Jones Lane) will be held on Sundays (Jan. 29, Feb. 19, March 26, April 30, May 28 and June 25), all from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Not only are the workshops free, but each project participant is reimbursed up to $50 for plants they buy to create their own butterfly, bee and bird-friendly garden if they complete the project. The workshops are open to all who are interested, but there are several requirements to participate in the project and receive the reimbursement. The piece of property you wish to transform (100 square feet, i.e., roughly 10 by 10 feet) must be within the Long Island Sound watershed (water on your street drains to the Sound as opposed to the Great South Bay and ocean). If you have a question as to whether your area is within the watershed, email [email protected] for details.

The property must then be planted with appropriate plants — a list will be provided at the workshop you attend. You are then asked share a before and after photo of the 100 square feet you have transformed.

This project is funded by a grant from the Long Island Sound Future Fund from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. To register, go to www.eventbrite.com/e/my-yard-our-sound-nature-friendly-landscaping-workshops-tickets-31275703471.

For more details on native plants, visit The Long Island Native Plant Initiative website at www.linpi.org, which holds an annual sale of native plants.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

The Maritime Explorium children’s museum in Port Jefferson hosted the Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire on June 4, bringing innovators from all over and loads of fun stuff for kids and adults to check out.

The fair filled up the museum, the harborfront park and all three floors of the Village Center in Port Jefferson.

North Shore ‘Makers’ to put creativity on display

A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium

By Alex Petroski

Creativity, innovation, exploration and a lot of fun are all on the docket for Port Jefferson’s Maritime Explorium this weekend. The Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire is slated to take place on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine, at the Explorium, the neighboring Harborfront Park and all three floors of the Village Center.

Douglas Baldwin, fractal artist and experimental musician will be at this year’s event. Photo by thecoyote.org
Douglas Baldwin, fractal artist and experimental musician will be at this year’s event. Photo by thecoyote.org

Last year the Explorium hosted a Maker Festival that drew over 2,000 visitors after board members attended the New York City Maker Faire and gave it rave reviews. The Maker Movement has taken off worldwide, thanks to the efforts of Maker Media, the group behind the faires. This year the Maritime Explorium is being supported and sponsored as an official Maker Faire, albeit a miniaturized version of the ones typically found in big cities like Barcelona, Berlin and the Bay Area across the globe.

“[The Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire] totally fits in that [the Maritime Explorium has] a space there that encourages more participation from makers on Long Island, and it gives them somewhere to go; and then for people who are unfamiliar, it gives them a nice taste of it without having to go into the city,” said Stephanie Buffa, a volunteer board member at the Maritime Explorium in a phone interview this week.

Buffa said the spirit of the event is to remind attendees of all ages that they are capable of making incredible things with their hands. Makers bring their inventions, innovations, prototypes and experiments to not only show off to attendees but also to provide a hands-on experience to do it yourself and make your own.

“I think it’s imperative,” Buffa said about the importance of making. “Everything is at our fingertips. [These days] if you’re sitting at the dinner table and somebody asks a question you [just] Google it. It’s so easy to get answers that way and it’s also so easy when we buy our children something to buy that cool science kit. ‘Here it is, your seeds, your pot, your dirt, your shovel all in one. Let’s buy this and teach them how to garden.’ It’s so easy to get caught up in all of these pre-packaged things that we forget to sort of, do it yourself. You can be creative in so many ways. You don’t have to be a good artist and be able to draw beautiful pictures to be creative and to make things.”

The event will feature dozens of makers, performers, artists and exhibitors as well as a Future Makers Expo and Robotics Showcase presented by students.

A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium
A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium

Some of the makers attendees should expect to see include Charles Rufino of The Long Island Violin Shop who will be demonstrating how to make a violin while finished ones are put to use and representatives from Stony Brook University’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences who will be demonstrating build-your-own catapults. “Yarn bombers” who crochet colorful covers for trees and columns of buildings like the Maritime Explorium will be present to teach the art of crocheting as well as interactive sculptures, a Technology Showcase, a guided Marine Biology Exploration and Meet-a-Scientist.

Other organizations involved with the day’s presentation include SBU’s College of Arts & Sciences, Stony Brook School of Medicine, InnovateLI, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Touro College School of Health Sciences,  RINX Roller Skating on the Harbor and the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council.

“It’s a little bit different from a high school or junior high school science fair because there’s more hands-on opportunities for people to actually participate and see how they can be a maker in whatever way themselves,” Buffa added. “It’s about participating and learning for all of the faire attendees, and getting a hands-on experience while they’re there.”

The Maritime Explorium is located at 101 E. Broadway in Port Jefferson. Tickets to attend the event are $17.50, though there are reduced family rates. For more information or to buy tickets visit www.easternlongislandmakerfaire.com.

A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium
A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium

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The Long Island Maker Festival debuts in Port Jeff

Spectators view demo of the Voxiebox which will be on display at the Long Island Maker Festival Sunday. Photo by Sean Kane

Opening my web browser the other day, I was dropped into the middle of an Apple “special event” product unveiling where an executive enthused about some app or service or the other. It was something to customize my newsfeed. Since I’m good with the way I currently get my news, I didn’t pay too much attention and moved on.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming — keeping up with apps, worrying about issues of privacy and multi-tasking — all of which can erode productivity and promise access to more content than we could ever properly consume. And yet, we can either be intimidated by technology or energized by it.

People who turn that energy into creativity — makers, doers — can be an inspiration to us all. That’s why this Sunday, June 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson Village and KidOYO are hosting the Long Island Maker Festival.

The largest maker festival in Suffolk County, it will showcase the work of people who have seized technological innovations and turned them into opportunities to become innovators, says Cindy Morris, the event’s organizer.

As Cindy describes it, the maker movement stems from accessible innovation.

“Technology has changed so much, you can do almost everything from your own home,” she says.”

You don’t need millions of dollars or fancy hi-tech facilities to realize your ideas.

I have to admit that I love the word “maker.” People who create, contribute and value utility. It’s the opposite of consumption and requires grit and ingenuity. How could anyone not be excited by that?

Sunday’s family event will bring together 50 volunteers from ages 11 on up to the Port Jefferson Harborfront Park. There will be scientists from across the island wearing shirts saying, “I’m a scientist. Ask me a question.” They want to encourage those who attend to learn more about the science behind what they will be seeing.  And Cindy assures there will be lots of science — professional robotics, a children’s science exhibition, a demonstration of green screen technology and a hologram machine built in a garage — to name just a few offerings.

Festival participant takes in the Voxiebox 3D video consul. Photo by Sean Kane
Festival participant takes in the Voxiebox 3D video consul. Photo by Sean Kane

The maker movement encompasses more than just science and technology, Cindy says. There’s art, performing art and crafting, much of which will also be seen Sunday.

Stony Brook University’s theater department will demo theatrical make-up, while attendees can take sewing lessons, observe an African drumming circle, or take in other musical performances. Workshops from computer coding to organic gardening will also be offered.

“We always talk to our children about being imaginative, but as we get older, we stop doing it ourselves,” Cindy observes.

This event, this gathering of creators and entrepreneurs, is to show that “anybody can do this,” she says. “We want our children to know that they don’t have to be adults to be creative, and for adults to realize that they don’t have to be children to be creative.”

All of this came together in four months, which Cindy sees as a show of the community’s interest and desire for such an event.  There are close to 100 makers participating, and organizers expect the festival to draw some 3,000 attendees.

Cindy’s background as a strategic planner for non-profits — she owns The Benson Agency — definitely came in handy when gathering sponsors. Without them, the undertaking would have cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000, she estimates.

Port Jefferson Village is allowing the organizers to use the Harborfront Park rent free, while The Rinx, the roller rink at the Village Center, is offering all attendees free roller skating for the day. Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences and its department of technology and society, Stony Brook Medicine, Hofstra, The Science Academy Camp at Park Shore, Long Island Parent and PSEG are among the other sponsors.

If you are a mover and a maker, or you want to be one, head “down Port” this Sunday. Maybe something you see will spark your sense of invention!

Tickets: Purchased in advance $10/person or $40/family. Day of $15/person or $60 family. www.limakerfest.com

Discovering the science of wind at the Maritime Explorium. Photo by Jacqueline Grennon-Brooks

By Erin Dueñas

Calling all artisans, DIYers, amateur scientists, inventors, innovators and everyone in between: The first large-scale Makers Festival is set to debut on Long Island this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center and Harborfront Park.

Presented and co-sponsored by the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson, the Long Island Makers Festival 2015 will feature a broad range of interactive exhibits including 3D printing, robotics, green screen technology, performance art, African drummers, roller skating, organic gardening and even geologists setting off volcanoes. The Explorium will also be open; there will be a “meet the scientist” booth and a horseshoe crab walk is scheduled. According to festival event coordinator Cindy Morris, the aim of the festival is to encourage the people who are already actively “making” as well as to show the community that innovation can happen anywhere.

“The common thread of the Maker Movement is accessible innovation,” Morris said. “The reality is that people have great ideas. We want to empower the ones who are creating. We found some amazing people.”

Morris said that financial backers and high-tech equipment is no longer necessary for anyone looking to invent and create. “This is something anyone can do. You don’t need a $5,000 piece of equipment. People are doing these things in their living rooms and garages.”

Mixing technology, coding and moving with kidOYO. Photo by Melora Loffreto
Mixing technology, coding and moving with kidOYO. Photo by Melora Loffreto

The Maker Movement is a mash up of lovers of art, science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and innovation who quite literally make things based on that love. “These are people who are inventors, artists and scientists who are doing incredible things. We believe it was time to showcase what is going on here on Long Island.” Morris said the festival will include a group of men who make holograms and students who created their own 3D printer. “We are taking concepts that feel big and powerful and making them accessible.”

Morris said that the festival motto is “Try it.” “The event is going to be very hands-on. No one could run an exhibit without it being interactive,” Morris said. “We are not just showing what was made, but we are focusing on what you can be doing.”

According to Lauren Hubbard, executive director of the Explorium, the festival will be an extension of what the Explorium does every day. A hands-on museum that features what Hubbard calls “open-ended exhibits,” the Explorium encourages visitors to build and create whatever they want. “You can do the same activity and get a different outcome every time,” Hubbard said. “There are just a million things that can be built.”

She said that the Makers Festival will offer visitors the same experience. “It’s all going to be hands-on and open ended,” Hubbard said. “We wanted to provide a venue for all Maker people to come together for a family friendly day. There’s going to be something for everyone.”

Melora Loffreto is the founder of the festival co-sponsor KidOYO, a program geared toward children ages 7 to 17 that teaches computer programming and coding. She said that Makers festivals and fairs have been popping up in small-scale locations such as schools and libraries across Long Island, but the Port Jefferson festival is the largest so far. “They take place in larger cities and there is a big one in Queens, but this is really the first to come out this way,” Loffreto said.

She described the Makers Movement as particularly important to Long Island. “Our youth is funneling off the Island. The festival is going to say that we have lots of Makers here, we have the skill set and we want to inspire people to keep the talent local.” She said the Makers Movement and the upcoming festival will help to keep skills in the United States. “We want to spur on inventors and to inspire local youth to go down a path of inventing and engineering.”