Hauppauge, NY- At the June 4th General Meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, the 1st place winners of the 2019 Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) Elementary School Science Fair from grades K-6 were recognized for their outstanding and innovative projects. The 18th Legislative District was well represented with two winners from Norwood Avenue School in Northport taking the top places in grades three and four. Legislator William Spencer was excited to invite Matthew Pokorny and Liam Dwyer to receive proclamations and showcase their exceptional work.
“These two young men are inspiring examples of the curiosity and ingenuity of our children. I was impressed by their projects, both of which took on a problem solving approach to a real life issue directly impacting our community. I’m excited to see where their interest and dedication takes them in the future. Congratulations, Matthew and Liam!” said Legislator Spencer
Matthew, the third grade winner, lives on Eaton’s Neck, a peninsula on the north shore of Long Island. Asharoken Avenue, which is the only road in and out of Eaton’s Neck, is frequently closed due to waves crashing over the sea wall and flooding the road causing significant concern. As this is a major issue in the community, Matthew’s experiment explored the prospect of building a rock wall in Long Island Sound to stop the waves from reaching the road.
Matthew began by building a small model of Asharoken Avenue out of Legos and collecting sand for “dunes” and rocks from the beach. He set up his model in a large Tupperware container. His plan was to measure how close the waves could get to his “road” with and without a rock barrier. He marked out one-inch increments (24”) on the Tupperware and then filled the container with water to simulate Long Island Sound. He created waves by taking a water bottle and pushing it up and down in the water at the far end. He then took slow motion video of the waves and watched frame by frame to see how close the water came to the road. Matthew then repeated the same process, but this time with a rock barrier and observed that while the water was all over without the barrier, it was only rough on the far side with the barrier and was successful in preventing the waves from reaching the road. After completing his study, Matthew wrote a letter to the Mayor of the Village of Asharoken informing him of his findings and strongly encouraging him to consider a rock wall as a solution to the current flooding problem.
The fourth grade winner of the competition, Liam, lives in a home on the shore that his family has owned for 50 years. Over time, they have watched the backshore of the beach shrink due to coastal erosion. As a result, Liam chose to study the effects of rip rap on coastal erosion which is not only happening in his backyard, but to shorelines across the country. Liam’s hypothesis was to test whether rip rap, which are man-placed rock or other material used to armor shorelines and shoreline structures against erosion, would stop erosion and that a combination of small and large rocks layered at the foreshore would be most effective. In smaller wave conditions, Liam expected the rip rap would stop the velocity of the swash and reduce the longshore drift of the sand. In larger wave conditions, where the waves breach the rip rap, he expected it would stop the backwash from carrying sand past it.
Liam built a model beach and tested his hypothesis under both gentle wave and storm surge conditions. He tested using no rip rap, small rip rap, large rip rap, and a combination of small and large. After dozens of tests, Liam concluded that his hypothesis was correct; the combination of small and large stones layered at the shoreline proved to be the most effective way to stop erosion of the backshore during both gentle and storm surge conditions.
This was Brookhaven National Laboratory’s 35th year conducting the competition which was designed to create interest and enthusiasm about science and engineering for Suffolk County elementary school students. All participating students must have already won their school science fair in order to compete.
3rd grade winner, Matthew Pokorny, is joined by his sister, mother, grandparents, and teachers as he accepts a proclamation from Legislator William Spencer.
4th grade winner, Liam Dwyer, along with his father, mother, sister, and teachers, accepts a proclamation from Legislator William Spencer.