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Kids learn about science by making ice cream

From left, Maggie Johnston, 7, and sister Farrell,

From left, Maggie Johnston, 7, and sister Farrell, 9, of Port Jefferson learn how to make ice cream with their mother, Renee Johnston, at the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson. (Jan. 29, 2012) Credit: Michael Cusanelli

Farrell Johnston, 9, and her 7-year-old sister Maggie sat at a large picnic table with creamer, ice, sugar and chocolate powder.

They carefully mixed ingredients in a large freezer bag.

The sisters and a handful of other children shook their bags excitedly as they learned how to make their own ice cream on Sunday afternoon at the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson, a center for children to learn about science in an interactive manner.

“We come to the museum all the time on Mondays,” said the girls’ mother, Renee Johnston, 40, of Port Jefferson. “They can spend hours here.”

The ice cream making lab teaches kids about the changing states of matter and simple chemical reactions. This was the third weekend in the “Ice is Nice” series at the Explorium, which has focused on activities related to the cold weather, including how to make igloos with ice cubes.

Carole Van Duyn, retired schoolteacher and adjunct professor at Dowling University, is the primary educator at the Explorium. She spends her time teaching kids the importance of basic scientific concepts, from magnetism to chemical reactions.

“The nature of our focus is for children to explore concepts through multi-sensory activities, “ Van Duyn said. “ You know why it’s wonderful? Because it’s all hands-on.”

The Explorium is preparing to celebrate its first year in Port Jefferson since moving into the new building on East Broadway.

VanDuyn said the Explorium was able to expand due to the help of fundraising efforts. In their time at the Explorium, Van Duyn and others who run the center have helped to show Long Island kids how much fun learning can be.

“It was really fun,” Farrell said. “It’s kind of really cool because we don’t get to make ice cream anywhere else.”

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