George Luther with Coast Day visitor Tabitha Curry.
Photo by Kathy Atkinson
Draped in a wizard’s gown bearing shiny gold stars and bright pink piping, George Luther stands in front of a packed audience, wielding a banana. “This is a hammer,” he says with confidence.
His statement elicits a hearty response from the many children in the room. “No! It’s a banana!” they yell.
Luther dips the fruit into boiling liquid nitrogen, hammers two nails firmly into a piece of wood with it, and one little voice in the crowd can’t help but shout, “Wow, that’s cool!”
All across Coast Day, held Sunday, Oct. 5 in Lewes, Del., visitors found reasons to smile, learn more, and sometimes, simply marvel out loud.
A 32-year tradition, Coast Day lets visitors learn more about the state’s ocean and coastal resources as well as the work of University of Delaware College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES) researchers, the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, and their many partners. With near record attendance levels on a sunny, mild day, Coast Day 2008 gave many visitors an opportunity to do just that.
The magic show, presented by Luther, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies, was an event that taught audience members about chemistry and oceanography. Other events that got people talking included several that focused on environmental issues, such as an exhibit that showed visitors how to start their own home composting system and another that demonstrated the university’s zero-pollution car.
At the event’s kick-off ceremony, UD President Patrick Harker praised event organizers CMES and Delaware Sea Grant for their work on environmental issues. Explaining that the coast is an area where there is tremendous pressure, he said we have to find ways to balance our needs with the health of natural resources.
“That’s what this day is really about, and I invite you to explore ways to do that in your own lives,” he said.
At that ceremony Nancy Targett, dean of CMES and Delaware Sea Grant director, recognized Gov. Ruth Ann Minner for her longtime support of Coast Day. She also congratulated the 2008 Governor’s Marine and Aquatic Science Teacher of the Year, Cape Henlopen High School teacher William Geppert.
Winners of the Coast Day Fifth-Grade Essay Contest also got some time in the spotlight. This year’s winner, Sydney Ostroski of Shields Elementary School, wrote about Bessy the Blue Heron, who lives in a non-tidal wetland and struggles with the large amount of algae growing there.
Later in the day, the seafood competitions drew crowds of hungry visitors. “Carl’s Crab Cakes with a Meyer Lemon Rémoulade” took first prize in the Crab Cake Cook-Off. The recipe begins with a traditional crab cake but a special sauce adds an interesting culinary twist.
“The lemon was more of a trendy way to make the traditional more gourmet,” said the winner, Newark resident Carl Zampini.
In the annual Chowder Challenge face-off, the Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association took first prize over the First State Chefs Association. In this event, visitors sampled a 2-ounce portion of each association's chowder and then voted for their favorite. Once the votes were tallied, chef Ron Brobst’s New England clam chowder was the winner.
A host of other events helped visitors make connections with the ocean and coast. Over at the ever-popular touch tanks, people felt and learned about dogfish sharks, horseshoe crabs, and other marine creatures. Under one large white tent, kids stopped to make a painting or cut and color their own animal-shaped hats.
There, Geoff and Lynnette Klopp of Lewes looked on as their daughters Darby and Riley contentedly worked on their projects. The Klopps said the day offers a unique opportunity to learn about science and the environment that they wouldn’t miss.
“Coast Day is such a fun way for (the kids) to learn,” Lynnette said. “We come every year.”
For more information about Coast Day, which will take place next year on Sunday, Oct. 4, visit www.deseagrant.org/coastday or call 302-831-8083.
To learn more about the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, visit www.deseagrant.org.
For more about CMES, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.