Long Island Science Center returns to downtown Riverhead

The Long Island Science Center has officially returned to Riverhead and is celebrating with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday at 4 p.m. It opens to the public at 11 a.m. Saturday.

An interactive Leonardo da Vinci model exhibit and history of video games are among the new attractions the center has added since it left Riverhead in 2016.

The non-profit learning center was founded in 1990 at 11 West Main St. and temporarily relocated to Rocky Point after its Riverhead building was sold to affordable housing development Peconic Crossing in 2016. Late last year, it found a new temporary home on the ground floor level of the Summerwind Square apartment building on 40 Peconic Ave. in Riverhead, which formerly housed BNB Bank.

The bank relocated to a different Main Street location and gave a “generous grant” to The Long Island Science Center to move into the vacated Summerwind Square location, according to the center’s executive director Cailin Kaller.

The center is actively searching for a permanent location, she said.

“This is the demo space to show the potential for what we can do in permanent space,” said Ms. Kaller who noted that the location on Peconic Avenue is ideal because passersby often peek through the windows to see inside the museum. “We’re leaving the lights on at night so people can see what we’ve go going on.”

The center has all new interactive exhibits since it was last in Riverhead. These include an augmented reality sandbox, which was created by researchers at the University of California-Davis, and is one of only two on Long Island.

By moving the sand, it changes color, mimicking topographic landscapes, she said.

“They are normally used to study watershed and effects on surrounding waterway,” Ms. Kaller said. “Most of the kids just want to build a big mountain, because if you get high enough, there will be snow on it.”

There’s also an interactive Leonardo da Vinci model exhibit, which were created by Roberto Guatelli and Joe Mirabella for IBM and donated to the center by Mr. Mirabella. The models represent Leonardo’s famous designs and inventions, including bridges, helicopters and self-propelling automobiles.

Other programs include a 3D pen, a history of video games, a “physics of toys” program and a “dinosaur dimensions” program, which is very popular with younger children, according to program manager Judith Isbitiren.

In the past, the center did rocketry programs with Riverhead High School students as well as a forensics program, she said.

The center also has educators that teach their programs at schools all over Long Island, Ms. Kaller said.

The Long Island Science Center’s hours will be posted on its website.

Photo caption: The Long Island Science Center has relocated to 40 Peconic Ave. in Riverhead. (Tim Gannon photo)