Melody Schiller and her two children, Hailey, 11, and David, 7, spent several minutes hovering around the rocks, and the kids seemed mesmerized by the minerals that contained bright, fluorescent crystals. “They’re nice rocks and they’re fun to look at,” said David, another Barnum Woods student. “The crystals look so cool.”
Astronomer Susan Rose, the president of the Amateur Observers’ Society of New York, taught kids about outer space. The society set up telescopes outside the library, where participants observed the magnified sun and moon. During their hour-long program, Rose showed children how to make miniature comets using carbon dioxide, water, ammonia and dirt. “This is Discover Earth, but people don’t realize that it goes beyond that,” she said. “Astronomy is extremely important. Without the moon, the Earth wouldn't be here.”
David Stolarz, who also lives in East Meadow, is a cartographer — a map expert. His program taught kids the proper methods of reading a map. “You can look at a map and gain your own understanding of the world,” said Stolarz, adding that maps have become even more pertinent in today’s age of Google Earth and digital mapping.
Another program, taught by astrophysicist Kevin Manning, focused on how different cultures have interpreted constellations, with a focus on the Native American Calusa tribe. “I wanted [the kids] to gain an appreciation for how the star patterns are viewed by various cultures over long periods of time,” said Manning, who has taught astrophysics at Tufts University in Boston.
Members of the Long Island Aquarium were also on hand, and brought live chain catsharks — small, spotted sharks that are harmless to humans. They were very popular during the day’s festivities. “There’s a lot of myths about sharks,” said Chris Brady, outreach coordinator for the aquarium, which is in Riverhead. “Hopefully they take away that sharks aren’t the dangerous, monstrous animals people think they are.”
In the children’s section of the library, Ugandan storyteller Lydia Matabi read to a large group of children and adults and taught them different styles of cultural dance.