Sparking kids' curiosity

Seaford Historical Society launches summer educational program at revamped museum


The Seaford Historical Society, with some help from Stop & Shop and the Long Island Children’s Museum, launched a new educational program that’s designed to appeal to youngsters’ curiosity: the Kids Summer Series. 

Comprising three hands-on classes, the program kicked off last Sunday at the recently renovated Seaford Historical Museum. Children in kindergarten through grade six got a close-up look at the striped bass and plenty of information about Long Island’s waterways at the first course, called Fish Tales. 

Patrick Martz, a member of the historical society’s board of directors, came up with the concept of the Kids Summer Series. After Stop & Shop opened in the former Pathmark on Merrick Road in November, Martz reached out to the company with his idea. “I read that Stop & Shop was interested in supporting education in the community, so I contacted them about this,” he said. 

Stop & Shop offered the nonprofit a grant to fund the offer the outreach programs, sponsored by the Long Island Children’s Museum. 

Led by museum educators, the workshops, officials said, embody the museum’s philosophy that children learn best by seeing, touching, doing and having fun. The “museum on the go” classes in the Kids Summer Series, held throughout the month, are: 

Fish Tales: A class that brings youngsters on an imaginary fishing trip on Long Island’s waters. They learn about fish habits and habitats, the maritime industry in the region, and comparative anatomy. 

Changes and Challenges (Aug. 14): A course that allows kids to explore some of the tools and inventions used by people with differing abilities, such as a wheelchair and a Perkins Braille typewriter. Museum officials said the children will learn how people communicate through sign language and use their sense of touch to solve tactile puzzles.

Up in the Air (Aug. 21): Through this workshop, children will learn about the science of flight and engineer their own gliders. They’ll also discover milestones in the history of aviation and learn about the “Golden Age” that transformed aviation from a sport to an industry.

The Kids Summer Series, which is free for participants, is the first program offered at the museum since it re-opened in May. What initially began as a project to upgrade the heating system turned into a two-year, full-fledged renovation of the Waverly Avenue building that was the community’s third schoolhouse, and later home to the Seaford Fire Department.

The museum houses many artifacts and memorabilia, reflecting the community’s history as a bay and farming town. Judy Bongiovi, the historical society’s president, said that programs like the Kids Summer Series are “the best way to get the little ones and their parents” into the building. 

“The museum is a rich community resource,” Bongiovi said. “Many people don’t even know we have a museum in Seaford, so we want to start exposing kids earlier and educating them in fun situations.”

Each of the two remaining classes will begin at 1 p.m. Last Sunday afternoon, the participants listened while Jessica Egan, an outreach educator from the Long Island Children’s Museum, talked about the region’s fishing history, the food chain and the anatomy of different fish. 

“We chose Fish Tales because it had to do with Long Island waterways,” Martz said. “Seaford is historically a bay community, so that was important to us.”

Egan explained to the youngsters that Native Americans made their livelihood by fishing in the area centuries ago. Then she took the kids on the imaginary fishing trip, which ended with the presentation of a real striped bass.

Egan held it for them to touch. The youngsters smiled and squirmed while running their fingers along its body. 

“I touched a real fish!” exclaimed Owen Dammacco, 5.

“He’s interested in science,” Owen’s mother, Kristin, explained. “He loves fish and insects, so this was perfect for him.” 

The kids all sat around a table as Egan cut the fish open. She showed them, one at a time, its liver, intestines, heart, scales, fins and eyeball. The organs were left on plates for the children to look at and touch. 

“It helps them to understand where their food comes from,” Egan explained. “For many of them, it’s their first experience with a real fish.” 

She cooked the fish on a skillet for the kids to sample. While she seared the bass, the youngsters had the chance to explore the museum and read books about marine life. 

Registration is still open for the next two Kids Summer Series programs. To participate, parents should email their child’s name, age and choice of program to