05/07/14 10:00am
05/07/2014 10:00 AM

The video posted online starts simply, with Oysterponds students standing in front of large containers while the disembodied voice of a teacher explains the instructions, or lack thereof.

“Each group is going to get one tub, and … well … all I’m going to say is that hose is gonna supply water when I turn it on,” the voice says. A hand points to dishwashing liquid and straws. The goal is simple: make the biggest bubble. (more…)

03/11/14 4:00pm
03/11/2014 4:00 PM
A work submitted for the exhibition by Olyvia Vayer took home first place. (Credit: East End Seaport Museum)

A work submitted for the exhibition last year by Olyvia Vayer that took home first place. (Credit: East End Seaport Museum)

Students from all East End high schools are invited to participate in the 2014 East End Challenge, in which they will be asked to create a science or engineering project on the theme of the “Littoral Zone,” and then express those results through an art form.

The littoral zone, the subject of this year’s challenge, is the part of the sea closest to the shore, which includes wetlands, estuaries, barrier islands, tidal marshes, beaches and dunes, and extends out to deeper waters.  (more…)

05/28/13 7:15am
05/28/2013 7:15 AM

EAST END SEAPORT MUSEUM COURTESY PHOTO | Cordelia Laren submitted this circular piece for the East End Challenge.

At the intersection of science and art lies the East End Challenge.

The art competition sponsored by the East End Seaport Museum and East End Arts asked high school students from across the North Fork to design a project based on inventive observation and creative interpretation of the region’s maritime culture.

The theme of this year’s inaugural challenge, “The Bays Around Us,” was inspired by author and activist Rachel Carson, whose writings — most notably in the book “Silent Spring” about the impacts of pesticides — are credited with advancing the modern environmental movement.

Ms. Carson once wrote, “The realities of science are the realities of life itself. We cannot understand the problems that concern us in this, our particular moment of time, unless we first understand our environment and the forces that have made us what we are, physically and men- tally.”

EAST END SEAPORT MUSEUM COURTESY PHOTO | A work submitted for the exhibition by Olyvia Vayer took home first place. 

It was in that spirit that area students were asked to create projects addressing the local marine environment and pollution. Students responded with proposals for sculpture, film, painting, music video, illustrated books and mixed media, according to the challenge’s co-organizer Arden Scott. Over the past six months the proposals were judged by a panel of seven local artists and scientists who narrowed the fi eld of finalists to 21 students representing 13 projects.

The exhibit was designed and organized by Greenport residents Bob Jester, a retired marine biology at Riverhead High School; Keith Mc-Camy, a retired geophysicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ; and Ms. Scott, a longtime sailor and acclaimed sculptor.

“I think it’s great for the high school students to be involved and understand the local environment,” Ms. Scott said.

The museum hopes to continue the challenge annually as a way of encouraging students to learn about and help shape the future of Long Island’s coastline, she said.

The winner and scholarship recipients will be announced during a reception on Saturday, May 25, at 5 p.m. at the East End Seaport Museum in Greenport.

Those who wish to attend can RSVP by emailing [email protected] or calling 631-477-2100.

The museum’s exhibition will be open to the public through Oct. 14.

[email protected]

05/20/13 8:09am
05/20/2013 8:09 AM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A customer, Lucille Kurtz, inspects a boxwood plant at Verderber’s Landscape Nursery and Garden Center in Riverhead. No cases have been reported on the North Fork.

Landscapers, nursery owners and plant scientists are on the lookout for a new fungus that attacks one of Long Island’s most popular plants: the boxwood.

The boxwood blight has yet to have a significant impact on Long Island, and both the landscaping and research communities are working hard to keep it that way, said Margery Daughtrey, a plant pathologist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead.

“We will have to be quite lucky and vigilant not to bring it in from other areas,” she said.

The deadly disease, calonectria pseudonaviculata, was first spotted in the United Kingdom in 1994, though scientists are unsure of where the disease originally came from.

The blight was not a concern stateside until October 2011, Ms. Daughtrey said, when the disease was found in Connecticut and North Carolina.

COURTESY PHOTO | Boxwoods infected with the blight have a dark brown or black spot on their leaves.

Since the disease had already been well-documented in Europe, scientists in the U.S. were able to share information about the disease quickly, she said. The fungus then spread to a few other states, like Maryland, Virginia and Oregon, which are large exporters of boxwood plants. That’s kept scientists on high alert for cases in new states.

The first cases of the disease in New York were found at two garden centers in December 2011.

The fungal disease attacks the plant at the point of contact, causing signature black spots on the leaves.

“We’re used to seeing dead foliage on boxwoods for a bunch of reasons, including winter injury, but this is a disease where the leaves usually fall off,” Ms. Daughtrey said.

Bare boxwood twigs are a good indicator that the blight is present, she said, adding that gardeners may also notice thin black streaks running down the sides of twigs on blight-infected boxwoods.

Since the disease was first spotted in 2011, no more than a dozen cases of boxwood blight in the landscape have been identified on Long Island, she said, adding that the infected plants were likely circulated before word of the disease spread. None of those cases occurred on the North Fork, she said.

No cases have yet been seen in production at nurseries on Long Island, she said.

“I think our nurseries have escaped contamination up until now,” Ms. Daughtrey said. “I don’t know if they always will but they’ve been lucky so far.”

But the growing demand for boxwood — a popular deer-resistant plant — on Long Island means that may not always be the case.

“Long Island doesn’t grow as many boxwoods as it needs,” Ms. Daughtrey said. “Over time it will get moved along a lot.”

Federal funding was recently approved to research the disease, she said, adding that scientists are curious to learn why some boxwood species are more resistant to it than others.

Landscapers who have been affected by the disease have worked with the Cornell Cooperative Extension to eradicate the blight, Ms. Daughtrey said.

Most nurseries are aware of the new blight and are taking steps to prevent it from reaching the North Fork, Ms. Daughtrey said.

COURTESY PHOTO | The fungus is fatal to the boxwood plant it infects, causing its leaves to fall off.

Lou Caracciolo, owner of Shade Trees Nursery in Jamesport, said his company is screening the sources of its boxwood plants. If a supplier is from a state where infected plants are known to exist, the nursery will shop elsewhere.

“Basically, all you can do is just monitor,” Mr. Caracciolo said. “It’s a matter of infected plants coming in.”

Yet other nurseries in the area haven’t been able to find any suppliers of healthy boxwood. Homeside Florist and Garden Center in Riverhead just isn’t selling any boxwood this year.

“We can’t get healthy ones,” an employee explained.

At Twin Pond Nursery on Sound Avenue, several rows of boxwood plants — five different varieties in all — grow in one of the fields. An employee said this is the third year the nursery has grown the plants.

“The problem is there’s no fungicide for [the blight],” he said, adding the plants there came from Delaware.

Still, Ms. Daughtrey said there are steps consumers can take to keep the blight in check. Infected plants will be more recent purchases from within the last three years, she said. English boxwoods, one of the more expensive varieties, are most susceptible.

From now on, homeowners should plant boxwoods in open spaces instead of in the shade, since sunlight will help prevent damp conditions that helps the disease flourish.

Consumers and landscapers should also be most wary during cooler, wetter times of the season, she said. Scientists will be watching this season to see how the fungus behaves in drier conditions.

“We need to live with it for a while see how it behaves,” she said. “It’s new. We really don’t know what to expect.”

[email protected] 

04/09/13 5:00pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Southold Elementary School students fired off two-liter soda bottles Tuesday morning as part of a science project.

Two-litter soda bottles filled with water and air pressure soared above Southold Elementary School Tuesday morning as part of a science project for sixth-grade teacher Jean Dempsey’s class.

Ms. Dempsey and math specialist Sam Wertheim said their students split into groups, were given a “$1 million” budget to create the bottle rockets and learned how to write checks to purchase the rocket materials, consultant fees, fuel and other expenses. The project is part of the district’s science, technology, engineering and math program known as STEM.

“Project-based learning helps students develop everyday skills,” Ms. Dempsey said. “We want to provide them with hands-on projects because they learn by doing.”

Pick up Thursday’s paper to read more about this story.

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10/02/12 8:08am
10/02/2012 8:08 AM

COURTSEY PHOTO | The Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham was built in 1901 by renowned architect Stanford White.

An online fundraising drive to help secure money for a nonprofit group to purchase the property around a former Tesla laboratory in Shoreham netted more than $1.37 million for the cause in just over a month, organizers announced this week.

The campaign, organized by nonprofit group Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe and creator of The Oatmeal webcomic Matthew Inman, raised the money to turn famed inventor and scientist Nikola Tesla’s lab into a science center and museum.

“We are so delighted and it’s so encouraging to know that people from all over the world, from over 108 countries, felt strongly enough to participate in this cause,” said Jane Alcorn, group president.

Mr. Tesla, a rival of Thomas Edison and a pioneer in the use of alternating current, conducted experiments at the Wardenclyffe laboratory off Route 25A, built in 1901 in the hopes of providing free, wireless electrical energy to the world.

After Mr. Tesla’s death, the property was leased to a photography company, which dumped waste on the land. Wardenclyffe was later purchased by an imaging company that is now trying to sell the property.

The fundraiser was started after the group heard rumors that a potential buyer might purchase the land first and demolish the existing laboratory building to make way for retail shops. In the first six days of the campaign, the group raised nearly $1 million, enough to trigger an $850,000 reimbursement grant from New York State to help purchase the land.

The non-profit will now meet with a team of lawyers working pro-bono to iron out the purchase of the land, Ms. Alcorn said, adding that the process will take several months.

“It’s not like buying a house, there’s much more involved,” she said.

Though the other potential buyer may still be interested, Ms. Alcorn says she is confident the nonprofit will be able to close the deal.

“It’s not a secret that we want this property, it’s also not a secret that we raised the money to do it,” she said. “I’m a very tenacious person. I was always very confident that we would get to this point.”

Ms. Alcorn said her group’s board members – Chris Wesselborg, Gene Genova, Mary Daum, Michael Russo, Margaret Foster, Richard Gearns and David Madigan – will also look over environmental issues at the site and meet with volunteer engineers to check the building for any structural damage.

Ms. Alcorn thanked the donors to the project, including the team behind the independent film Fragments from Olympus, which helped support the cause.

The group will update its website and Twitter feeds with more information as it becomes available, Ms. Alcorn said, to allow supporters to remain a part of the process.

“We want to be as open as we can about all of the progress that we make,” she said.

[email protected]

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Oatmeal creator Mr. Inman’s first name as Michael. His first name is Matthew.