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STEM

By Aramis Khosronejad

The Long Island Explorium hosted its 7th annual Maker Faire on Saturday, June 8, also held at the Village Center and Harborfront Park. The event featured a wide range of activities, from hands-on origami lessons to robotics presentations, drawing a large and diverse crowd.

The Maker Faire has been a popular event well received by various communities. It aims to foster curiosity and provide a platform for people of all backgrounds and interests to share their passions. 

The Maker Faire concept originated in San Mateo, California, in 2006, created by the editors of Make magazine. Since then, it has grown into an international event, with Maker Faires held in cities like San Francisco, New York, Berlin and Barcelona as well as Port Jefferson.

Angeline Judex, executive director of the Long Island Explorium, emphasized that the Maker Faire is “a festival of invention and innovation for everybody. Not just for little kids but for adults as well.” She highlighted the event’s diversity, which makes it especially unique. The faire featured an impressive assortment of participants and interests, from radio clubs to robotics and sculptures made from ocean debris.

This year’s Maker Faire on Long Island featured more than 75 exhibitors and 120 presenters.

The Maker Faire is designed to feed curiosity and nurture knowledge. Judex stated that the purpose of the event is “to enhance education, enrich life and to empower minds,” teaching that “learning is lifelong.” She noted the importance of such events in today’s society, especially with the advent of artificial intelligence. By cultivating curiosity and providing a space for the exchange of information, the faire aims to inspire innovation. “The challenges of the future can be changed by innovations from today,” Judex said. “Science is really at the intersection of endless possibilities — we’re talking about infinite possibilities for the future.”

Judex encouraged attendees to “explore, discover, invent and inspire,” sharing the joy and wonder that sustains lifelong learning and curiosity. “There’s no finite end, the exploring always continues,” she said, emphasizing the importance of having fun while learning.

By Tara Mae

Ingenuity and imagination synthesize into innovation. The Long Island Explorium, a science and engineering museum in Port Jefferson, celebrates the projects and persons involved in this process with the 7th annual Maker Faire Long Island at the Port Jefferson Village Center, LI Explorium and Harborfront Park at 101 East Broadway on Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Featuring more than 75 exhibits and 120 presenters showcasing their creations, this multi-sensory experiential event lauds efforts in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). Exhibits range from robotics and cosplay design to environmental engineering projects, scientific advancements, kinetic art, and fire sculptures.

Highlights include:

Adam Foster’s Royal Trumpets: Majestic 15-foot kinetic pyrotechnic sound sculptures.

Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club: Bringing the Star Wars universe to life. (pictured above)

Long Island Drone Soccer: An electrifying new sport combining drone technology with soccer.

Princesses with Powertools: Empowering young engineers with hands-on projects.

Balloon Bot Brawl: A thrilling robot showdown led by high school maker Ray Rumore.

Learn to Solder Workshop: Taught by Elijah Horland of Mythbusters Jr, sponsored by PCBWay.

Besides individual contributions, organizations such as Suffolk County Community College, Brookhaven National Labs, and Stony Brook University will show some of their work. Scientists and educators from the university will also participate in ‘Ask a Scientist” Q&A sessions that enable young attendees to cultivate their curiosity as they ask scientific questions of professionals. 

In addition to the dialogues, displays, and demonstrations, the Faire will have live musical performances, including a songwriter showcase, from 1 to 5 p.m., and two performances by the Umisora Taiko Drummers.

“Maker Faire is a global movement that combines elements of classic science fairs with innovation, creativity, and STEAM. It is known as the ‘Greatest Show & Tell on Earth,’ showcasing makers’ ingenuity and creativity. Maker Faire Long Island…embodies this spirit,” said Long Island Explorium’s Director of Digital Media/Marketing/Programming Lisa Collet Rodriguez.

With conventions in other locations like New York City, San Francisco, Barcelona, and Berlin, the Maker Faire Long Island is part of a larger international initiative that fuses scientific experimentation with artistic expression. By embracing these pursuits, the family-friendly occasion seeks to engage audiences of all ages, with interactive elements geared towards youth. 

“I wish I had [Maker Faires] when I was younger. They have provided me a platform and support to share my works with tens of thousands of makers across the country, and inspire future generations of makers. It’s a win win,” said maker Adam Foster, of Rochester.

A musician, steel fabricator designer, and engineer, Foster made “The Royal Trumpets,” six 15 foot tall kinetic sculptures. They allude to the trumpets that historically announced royalty. And at the Maker Faire, this grandeur is both a celebration of community and an invitation for new members to join it. 

Encouraging visitors to dream and learn are not the only collective goals shared by many of the participants. The Faire is an opportunity for pragmatic ponderers and methodical mavericks to network with each other.

“Popular subcultures always have places to gather, such as Comic-Con. Maker Faire is that place for people passionate about the intersection of Arts and STEM now called STEAM,” maker Elijah Horland, of Brooklyn, said. “At a Maker Faire we gather, not just to show off our skills, but to collaborate with peers, mentors, and beginners alike in a supportive environment.”

Through his company, Not-A-Bomb, Horland develops mechatronic projects that incorporate engineering lessons curated to entertain and educate. He is a MythBuster from the Discovery Channel reality show and the executive producer of Maker Faire Coney Island. 

A number of the makers participate in other Maker Faires throughout the country, sharing their projects with interested parties and building relationships. 

“Maker Faires are these amazing events where people from all different backgrounds and with all different interests can come together and find a bigger community,” said maker Caeley Looney of Austin, Texas.

Originally from Farmingdale, Looney is the founder and CEO of Reinvented Inc., a nonprofit organization that hosts Princesses with Powertools. The program connects girls with women in Science, Technology, and Math (STEM) professions who, while dressed as princesses, teach them how to operate their first power tools. 

“Innovation is diversity driven. Without having diverse minds and voices working on the leading edge of science and technology, new ideas, products, and solutions will never be created. Women play a huge role in this, but historically have been left out of these fields and conversations — and that bias and pushback is still felt by students today,” she added. 

Bringing STE[A]M to individuals who historically have less access to it is a motivating factor and ongoing endeavor for many Faire associates, according to Long Island Explorium Executive Director Angeline Judex.

“Many people don’t think of museums as agents of social change in communities, but the Long Island Explorium plays a vital role on Long Island as a lighthouse of enriching STEM programs that foster inventive thinking and serve as a catalyst for empowerment,” Judex said. 

“The Maker Faire is strategically aligned with our vision to promote STEM discovery, learning, and innovation that will shape the intellect, social values, and principles of future generations,” she added.

Advanced tickets may be purchased online through EventBrite. Individual tickets, including fees, are $13.36 per person. A family pass, which has tickets for two adults and up to five children, are $57.65 including fees. Tickets at the door for individuals are $16.65, including fees. Tickets at the door for family passes are $62.80, including fees. 

For more information, including a complete list of exhibitors and schedules, visit longisland.makerfaire.com. 

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.”

David Spergel, Simons Foundation president, and Maurie McInnis, SBU president, announced on May 11 that SBU would be the recipient of a $56.6 million gift from the Simons Foundation to fund a STEM program. Photo from Stony Brook University

At a press conference held May 11 at Stony Brook University it was announced that the Simons Foundation along with its sister foundation, Simons Foundation International, was gifting $56.6 million to SBU. 

The funds will be used in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics program to be launched in the fall of 2023. The Stony Brook Simons STEM Scholars Program will provide scholarships, housing and stipends to 50 new students each year in the STEM fields. 

“We could not be more excited and grateful to enter this new partnership with the Simons Foundation,” said SBU President Maurie McInnis, in a press release. “The Stony Brook Simons STEM Scholars Program will allow young people to reach their potential as they bring new, much-needed diversity of perspective to science and innovation. At any given time, we will have 200 future STEM leaders on our campus, forging their way in the STEM fields and setting the stage for future generations of students to follow in their footsteps.”

Simons Foundation’s new president David Spergel was on hand for the presentation. The $56.6 million gift is the Simons Foundation’s largest gift under his leadership.

“We need scientists and mathematicians who are reflective of our diverse world, and the scientific and educational communities must work together to find, train, and support underrepresented scientists and mathematicians,” Spergel said. “That’s why the foundation is making its largest investment yet in diversity through the Stony Brook Simons STEM Scholars Program. Stony Brook University has shown a real commitment already to access and opportunity. They’re our ideal partners in this.” 

In a joint statement, Jim and Marilyn Simons, co-founders and co-chairs of the foundation, said they were “proud to see the foundation taking steps to increase diversity in STEM fields.”

“The support network, tight-knit community, and sense of belonging that students will find in this program will be life-changing,” the couple said. “We’re incredibly proud to be part of a program like this, with positive implications not just for Stony Brook, but for New York State and the broader scientific and mathematical communities.”

Justin Fincher, SBU vice president for advancement, said, “The power of this gift is that it is not dedicated to existing programmatic or budget needs; rather, it will exclusively support hundreds of Stony Brook Simons STEM Scholars students.”

According to SBU, there is a major need for programs such as the Stony Brook Simons STEM Scholars Program to address the lack of diversity in STEM fields. STEM careers have seen a 79% growth in employment in the past 30 years, making STEM one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. workforce. Yet Black and Hispanic workers only make up 17% of the U.S. STEM workforce, compared to 28% of the total workforce. Only 12% of full-time faculty at PhD-granting institutions are Black or Hispanic, a disparity that also exists in STEM higher education programs. 

Underrepresented college and university students are much more likely to switch from a STEM major to another course of study than their peers, according to SBU. 40% of Black STEM students switch their major during undergrad, compared to 29 percent of white STEM students, and Black STEM students are also twice as likely as their white peers to leave college without a degree. Just 7% of all STEM Bachelor’s degrees were awarded to Black students in 2018

As part of a STEM Partnership with the School District, Smithtown HS West Marine Biology students in Kimberly Williams’ class get an inside look at real world dilemmas, which Long Island must face regarding future solid waste and recycling concerns.

The Town of Smithtown, in partnership with the Smithtown Central School District, embarked on phase two of its first STEM program partnership. On  Dec. 2, students in Kimberly Williams’ Marine Biology class at High School West, got an inside look at the Town’s Recycling and Solid Waste process at Smithtown Municipal Services Facility as it relates to the environment and the major challenge Long Island will face, once the Brookhaven landfill closes in 2024.

Sanitation Supervisor Neal Sheehan and Smithtown Solid Waste Coordinator, Mike Engelmann led a hands-on experiential learning trip with marine biology teacher, Kimberly Williams. Students saw the process of what happens to waste once it leaves the curbside, the many different materials which Smithtown recycles, challenges of fluctuating recycling markets, and the harmful impacts which can occur without personal awareness and responsibility.

“This was the first of several STEM programs, together with the school district and it couldn’t have been better received. This generation is very conscious of critical environmental issues, like protecting the watershed, and Long Island’s impending waste crisis. Bringing their lesson plans from the chalk board to the real world, so students can witness the benefits of their hard work before their eyes, is not only exciting… It’s beneficial to the community they call home. I’m especially grateful for the School Districts partnership in this phenomenal learning experience for our youth,” said Supervisor Ed Wehrheim.

The day began with a basic understanding of where solid waste and recycling goes once it leaves the curb at home. Students learned about the recycling markets, recent changes the Nation was forced to make once China closed the doors to the U.S. industry and the consequences of contaminated materials being disposed of in a country without the same regulations as the United States. The Smithtown HS West marine biology students had an excellent, previous understanding of plastics pollution happening in our oceans. Neal Sheehan and Mike Engelmann gave an in depth presentation on the upcoming closure of the Brookhaven Landfill, the harmful and invasive environmental impacts of trucking waste off the Island, and the possible solutions to expand recycling and removing ash off the Island.

“This was the most fun I’ve had at work in years. First, I can’t believe how engaged the kids are. This generation is so aware of the impacts we as humans have on our local environment and they are eager to solve the problems at hand. I’m very excited to work with the class on the final stage of the partnership. I have a hunch we’ll have some excellent new employees working in the various fields of environmental planning, and engineering in the very near future!,” said Neal Sheehan, Sanitation Supervisor.

The class toured the Municipal Services Facility (MSF) where they saw cardboard and paper being sorted, and learned the do’s and don’ts of recycling properly. Students got an eagle eye view of the various material drop sites residents can utilize, such as electronic waste and ​​household appliances, construction and demolition, and glass. From the top of the hill, they observed the massive wood chipping operation, which is made from residential brush and tree branch collection and given away to residents for free. Additionally, students got to see groundwater monitoring locations, located at the former landfill site. The Town is required to monitor the underlying groundwater as a part of the post-closure care period. At the end of the tour, Smithtown Environmental Planner, Liam Trotta took a drone up in the air to show students the Solar array and wind turbine located on the grounds.

“It really makes all the difference when you get to physically see the whole operation right in front of you. We could see the concern and surprise on each student’s face, despite their face masks.  Concerned when they learned that the average Long Islanders is responsible for almost five pounds of waste in one day… Pleasantly surprised when they saw just how much we in Smithtown reuse and recycle, and even happier to learn that their solid waste was being recycled into energy at Covanta. But, when we explained the environmental and economical impacts of trucking the remaining ash and C & D off Long Island, you could hear a pin drop in the room. They understand that a clock is officially ticking to implement a solution… and they are very eager to tackle the issue at hand,” said Mike Engelmann, Smithtown Solid Waste Coordinator.

The STEM Partnership takes a hands-on approach to real world environmental issues affecting the community, utilizing the branches of science in order to apply possible ideas or solutions to improve the problem. Such topics covered include solid waste & recycling, invasive species, stormwater runoff, nitrogen pollution and water quality. Phase One is a simple introduction video presentation for students to understand the scope of each issue. Phase Two involves site and case studies where students witness each issue in person and have the opportunity to ask questions which are answered by official Town experts in each field. Phase Three is conducted in the classroom where students will present solutions to each concern. At every stage of the partnership, the Town and School district work in tandem to help students apply lesson plans to each real world scenario. The Town of Smithtown hopes to expand this program to all local school districts who are interested.

Photos from Town of Smithtown

The students in Eastern Suffolk BOCES Summer Enrichment Programs spent the summer designing video games, authoring books, exploring the ocean, and so much more. The Summer Enrichment Programs, held in the Bayport-Blue Point, Bayshore, Comsewogue, and Connetquot districts, featured STEAM-based activities, which incorporate the arts into the STEM model. Students participated in hands-on science and math classes, literacy courses and reading groups, and field trips to the Long Island Aquarium, Adventureland, Splish Splash, and virtual ESBOCES Arts-In-Education Programs.

Sessions ran in three, two- week sessions at each location from July 6 through August 13, 2021, and were available to all students entering Grades 1 through 9 in September. Students had half-day and full-day options, as well as an entire summer option.

Lauren Matarese, program director at the Bayport-Blue Point location, has seen firsthand how this program helps students avoid educational regression over the summer months. “The guided reading groups and writing support that we have incorporated are really helping the students practice their literacy skills,” she says. In addition to the enrichment activities, students spend time participating in team sports, arts and crafts, and games. “The students are still having summer fun, but with academics built in,” says Ms. Matarese.

The ESBOCES Model Schools Program assisted the summer staff with integrating new technology into the curriculum for the Summer Enrichment Programs. The Model Schools Program offers support to teachers in the area of technology integration in order to facilitate the implementation of the New York State Learning Standards. The goal of Eastern Suffolk BOCES is to provide a multifaceted educational experience for all students.

From left, Environmental Director David Barnes, Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, Smithtown artist Susan Buroker, Smithtown CSD Art Teacher Timothy Needles talk with students about stormwater runoff. Photo from Town of Smithtown

The Town of Smithtown, in partnership with the Smithtown Central School District, has begun a unique partnership in time for the 2021-2022 school year. Town officials will begin to coordinate hands-on experiential learning opportunities with school science teachers, which focus on real world environmental issues affecting the community. The new programming will focus on the branches of science and how to apply the curriculum to real world issues such as solid waste, invasive species, and water quality.

“We’re absolutely thrilled at the prospect of getting our youth more engaged in critical environmental issues, like protecting the watershed, and Long Island’s impending waste crisis. I can remember back to my school days, always asking ‘When am I ever going to use this in the real world?’ This programming takes studies from the chalk board to the real world, so kids witness the benefits of their hard work unfold before their eyes… I’m especially grateful for the School Districts partnership in what will undoubtedly be a phenomenal learning experience for our youth,” said Supervisor Ed Wehrheim.

Over the Summer, town department experts at Environment and Waterways, and Municipal Services Facility will begin coordinating with school district science teachers to help perfect the programming. Real world topics include the impending solid waste crisis, shellfish and water quality, invasive species census and stormwater runoff. Each class will hear expert presentations from Smithtown’s environmental authorities, in addition to participating in eco-adventure field trips. Students will then learn how to apply STEM related solutions to real world issues.

While still in the planning phase, the new partnership program is slated to launch in the fall.

Screenshot from HACK@CEWIT

By Harry To

The Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology at Stony Brook University hosted its 5th annual Hack@CEWIT “hackathon” featuring student-made inventions, Feb. 26-28.

Usually this showcase takes place in person, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s event was hosted online. In place of the usual format, the over-200 competitors communicated through Zoom or Discord.

Satya Sharma, executive director of CEWIT, emphasized the abnormal circumstances weren’t a problem.

“This year’s 5th annual Hack@CEWIT had over 200 registered undergrad and graduate hackers from across the U.S.,” he said. “And though it was held virtually due to the pandemic, it did not diminish the quality of projects submitted by these bright and motivated students. It’s opportunities like this hackathon that builds confidence in their creativity and grows their entrepreneurial spirit.”

According to Sharma, this year’s theme, Innovating Through the Pandemic, reminds people that though there are sudden and unknown challenges, they can seize the opportunities those challenges create and harvest ideas never before imagined.

Students Mohammad Elbadry, 23 (left) and Aaron Gregory, 23 (right). Photo from event

A standout project was R-AGI: Radiology Artificial General Intelligence, created by Stony Brook University graduate students Mohammed Elbadry, Joshua Leeman and Aaron Gregory.

“According to a survey, radiologists only have about 3-4 seconds to look over an X-ray and determine if there are any anomalies,” said Elbadry, a Ph.D. student with over 20-plus hackathons under his belt. “They don’t have much time, so if they had an AI that could help them that would be very useful.”

The limited time for scanning X-rays may result in a higher frequency of errors or discrepancies, with some studies citing an average 3% to 5% error rate, he said. That’s about 40 million radiologist errors every year, mistakes that could potentially cost hundreds of lives.

With the problem in mind, the team of three went to work to create AI that would offer a solution — a program that automatically scans X-rays and detects anomalies. This is something that could save not only time, but human lives.

By using an existing dataset of labelled X-rays, the team trained its AI to detect the presence of pneumonia as well as its specific manifestation. The AI then labels and informs the user of any further anomalies.

The SBU team ended up with an impressive showing, including Top-Tier Graduate Best in Show and Best Healthcare Innovation.

Another award winning project was DarkWebSherlock, created by Andrew Zeoli, Colin Hamill, Donald Finlayson and Ian Costa from Johnson & Wales University,  Providence, R.I.

The sale of personal information on the dark web, a hidden part of the internet accessible through the TOR Browser, is a problem that has persisted for years, and DarkWebSherlock aims to create a solution.

The program allows users to scan through online marketplaces on the dark web to see if their data is up for sale anywhere.

This enables victims to be proactive by updating their passwords or changing their credit card numbers to better secure their information.

Costa said the program will be an invaluable asset. “Searching for usernames on the dark web is something our team does on a daily basis,” he said. “Our project will save valuable time for investigators and with some extra work will become a staple tool for dark web investigations.”

DarkWebSherlock won Top-Tier: Undergrad Best in Show.

Another award-winning project, Vaccine-Finder, aims to help speed up COVID-19 vaccine distribution for 65-year-old-plus vaccine seekers.

The interface allows the elderly, also people with disabilities, to plug in their zip codes and view the appointment availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Joshua Muckey started this project only recently, and it won Best Pandemic Innovation.

In all, the event hosted 15 projects, many of which showcased student ingenuity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year is a reminder of why innovation is key to our success and our survival as a region, as a state and as a society,” said Marc Alessi, a judge for the event, CEO of SynchroPET and executive director of Tesla Science Center. “This weekend’s hackathon at Stony Brook University’s CEWIT center is an example of bringing together emerging innovators from very diverse backgrounds for the purpose of celebrating and practicing innovation in its most raw form. This is essential to foster an environment of innovation.”

All of the participants’ projects can be found online here.

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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The Stony Brook School STEM faculty Jeremy Donovan, left, and Stan Winston wearing the laser cut face shields designed and assembled in The Stony Brook School’s STEM lab. Photo from The Stony Brook School

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and shortage of materials hospitals are facing, a small group of high school students and faculty from The Stony Brook School have come up with a solution that can be produced in their STEM lab and, soon, across the country — protective face shields at a fraction of the originally expected time and cost, according to a press release from the private school.

Stony Brook University Hospital recently reached out to the surrounding community to secure usage of 3D printers to produce face shields. The hospital, whose design would take approximately three and a half hours per shield, sought to commision 5,000 shields per usable printer.

When the Stony Brook School was alerted of this, Stan Winston, director of STEM Education, and Jeremy Donovan, STEM teacher, thought they could come up with a much more efficient solution with the help of their highly-skilled students. In a little over 24 hours, Winston had presented the idea to his classes — in virtual classrooms since the outbreak of the pandemic — and a prototype was made.

After three major roadblocks were overcome by the students, a final solution was found. In lieu of a time-intensive 3D print, a face shield constructed with the STEM lab’s laser cutter could be made in just 35 seconds. With the new design and process, about 100 can be made each hour at a cost of under 50 cents each, and the school will be producing at least 5,000 of them for SBU Hospital.

Students instrumental in coming up with this solution were Stony Brook School sophomores Cole Spier and Tiger Winston and junior Ethan Magnuson.

“Our students are committed to serving the world with their character and leadership,” Stan Winston said. “With their years of problem-solving experience in our STEM courses, along with a huge community effort, we have reached a great solution to a pressing issue facing our country today.”

Stony Brook University Hospital has accepted the school’s design and proposal, according to The Stony Brook School.