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Coast Day returns to UD Lewes campus

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson and Evan Krape

Future Blue Hens? Fifth grade essay contest winners named

Technology can help solve many problems in this world, according to fifth-grader Anna Puleo, from Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Newark, Del.

Given the chance, Puleo would take advantage of aerial drone technology to learn more about the migration habits of the ruby throated hummingbird, the only species of hummingbird to nest in Delaware.

Puleo’s detailed account of the important role hummingbirds play as pollinators earned her first place in the annual Coast Day fifth grade essay competition. Learning about their migration habits, she wrote, could help farmers who depend on hummingbirds and other pollinators to grow their plants and provide a natural back up system for traditional pollinators such as bees, which have experienced dwindling populations in recent years.

“Without hummingbirds, lots of plants can’t produce flowers and seeds, which farmers need to grow more plants,” she wrote. “If bees go extinct, we will need hummingbirds to fill in for the bee pollination job. This is why we need to use the drone and learn more about hummingbirds.”

Puleo and her fellow winners were recognized at a ceremony during Coast Day, held at the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes on Oct. 1. In addition to her first-place prize of a bookstore gift card, Puleo will also be invited to participate in a research drone flight with graduate student and licensed drone pilot Stephanie Dohner.

Sponsored by the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) and the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, Coast Day offers students, teachers and the community a unique opportunity to learn more about the ocean and coastal environment.

Coast Day returned after a two-year hiatus that was caused by weather and renovation of facilities.

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U.S. Senator Tom Carper; CEOE Dean Estella Atekwana, Eleni Assanis and UD President Dennis Assanis

UD President Dennis Assanis, who praised the Delaware community’s deep respect for the coastal environment and serious commitment to protecting it.

“Our state understands the tremendous value of the coast — not only for our economy, but also for the well-being and enjoyment of Delawareans today and those of future generations,” Assanis said. “Coast Day is such an important event because it helps all of us learn about and appreciate this unique natural resource. This kind of community engagement is one of the most important things this University does.”

During the recognition ceremony, CEOE Dean Estella Atekwana welcomed the students and families to Coast Day, calling it a renewal of tradition “with an eye to the future of this college, this campus and this community.”

“All of us here and throughout the university are committed to building an atmosphere of inclusive excellence that best serves our students and our community,” Atekwana said. “We believe science is important not only for what it allows us to discover, but also for how it allows us to help our environment and, vitally, our neighbors.”

Coast Day 2017
Children learn about animal life at Coast Day.

This year’s essay contest asked fifth grade students to consider this year’s theme, “Discoveries on land, in the air and at sea” and describe how they would use robotics to make discoveries and explore Delaware. The competition yielded 101 entries from seven Delaware school districts, according to Chris Petrone, DESG marine education specialist and essay contest coordinator.

Second and third place winners were James Falk, Jr., a student in Denise Subrick’s class, and Brady Kosc, a student in Jacquie Kisiel’s class, both from Rehoboth Elementary in Rehoboth Beach. Honorable mention awards were given to: Jasmine Johnson in Jennifer Watkins’ class at Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Newark; Savannah Montgomery in Jacquie Kisiel’s class at Rehoboth Elementary in Rehoboth Beach; and Shelby Manlove, a student in Gail Drummond’s class at Shields Elementary in Lewes.

“We really challenged the students with this year’s essay contest by asking them to develop a research question and determine the best robotics to collect data towards their question,” Petrone said. “The prompt required critical thinking, research, and effective communication—in line with the Next Generation Science Standards—and this year’s top essayists all developed well-rounded proposals.”

In addition to Assanis and Atekwana, the students were congratulated by Eleni Assanis; U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Lewes Mayor Ted Becker and Ed Lewandowski, acting director of Delaware Sea Grant.

Oysters, seafood chowder, crab cakes and more

Coast Day festivities feature a variety of activities, including several contests. Below are the results from this year’s fan favorite competitions:

Oyster Shucking— James Frasier from Rehoboth Beach took first place overall with a time of 1:48:47. David Duzak with George and Sons came in second, while Billy Nickerson with JD Shuckers won third place.

Seafood chowder challenge—Coast Day attendees helped choose the winner of the Seafood Chowder Challenge, with over 300 visitors tasting the chowders and casting a vote for their favorite. The First State Chefs Association won first prize.

Crab cake cookoff—Lynne Laino from Lewes, Del. took first place in Coast Day’s longest-running seafood competition with her “Pecan Crusted Crab Cakes with Fresh Creamed Corn” recipe. Bonnie Robinson of Seaford, Del., placed second, while Darla Koff of Frederica, Del. took home third place. Winning crab cake recipes from the past 26 years are featured in the Coast Day Crab Cake Cookbook, which is available for order through the Delaware Sea Grant publications catalog

Photo contest—Instagram user Grant Jiang’s picture of an otter swimming through marshland below a beautiful Delmarva sunset best captured this year’s theme of “Delmarva’s wetlands and coast that highlight the intersection of land, air and sea.” Runner up Beth Baker’s picture also made use of the sun, over exposed intertidal habitat along the coastline.

For a complete list of contest winners, including their essays, recipes and photos, visit the Coast Day contest page.

To learn more about Coast Day, which will take place next year on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, visit the website or call 302-831-8083.

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