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The Journey Continues…

March 14, 2013

Figure 1. Angelic Ebbers, a software engineer at the Gemini Observatory, shows newcomers to the Journey program what she does in the classroom as an example of what works well with students. The workshop was held at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in advance of classroom presentations so that scientists and engineers would be better prepared for their classroom visits during “Journey Week.”

Figure 2. Subaru Observatory’s Olivier Guyon shows students at Ha’aheo Elementary School the surface of the Sun using a safe solar filter.

Figure 3. VIPs enjoy a Journey through the Universe “Thank-You” event at the Hilo Yacht Club sponsored by the Hawaii Island, and Japanese, Chambers of Commerce. Participants included Hawai‘i Governor Neil Abercrombie (third from left), Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi (far right), Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi (fourth from left), Director of the National JttU program Jeff Goldstein (sixth from left), District Superintendent Hilo/Waikea Complex Valerie Takata (second from left), Gemini Director Markus Kissler-Patig (fifth from left) and Gemini’s local outreach/education leader and JttU manager Janice Harvey (far left).

Figure 4. Robotic insect critters are used to challenge Waiakea Intermediate School students as they solve problems and understand the mechanics of mobile mechanical devices.

Figure 5. Students at Waiakea Intermediate School experiment with light using a “Light House” as Gemini Software Engineer Angelic Ebbers engages students in demonstrations of reflection, refraction, and how telescopes collect light to study the universe.

Figure 6. Gemini PIO Manager Peter Michaud explains condensation, clouds, and sublimation with a block of dry ice later used to make a comet for second grade students at Hilo’s E.B. DeSilva School.

Figure 7. Gemini Astronomer Richard McDermid uses an exercise ball to engage students in understanding the scale of our solar system at E.B. DeSilva Elementary School.

Figure 8. Gemini Director Markus Kissler-Patig visits Hilo’s Waiakea High School and points out how a deep ocean fish can help astrobiologists understand what life on other planets might look like.

Hawai‘i students take a journey through the universe as Big Island observatories share discoveries and inspire.

“Do you think space aliens are real?” Gemini Observatory’s Director Markus Kissler-Patig asks a class of students. His question is part of Gemini’s Journey through the Universe (JttU) program where dozens of scientists and educators share their work and, most importantly, inspire young Hawai‘i Island students. “I think the students in our classrooms today are the ones who will answer the big questions we are asking, such as what, and possibly who, is out there on all of those planets we are only starting to discover now,” says Kissler-Patig.

Now in its ninth year, JttU wraps up its annual “Journey Week” on March 15th. During this week Gemini staff joined over 50 other scientists, researchers, and educators in classrooms across East Hawai‘i (see photos in this feature). “The goal of this program is to inspire our keiki,” says the program’s manager and Gemini’s education and outreach leader Janice Harvey. “Even if every student doesn’t become a scientist or engineer, we want them to appreciate the excitement of exploration and discovery,” she says. “It’s something that they can keep for a lifetime.”

The Hawai‘i JttU program began in 2004 as part of a national program that included 10 communities throughout the US. The program’s founder, Jeff Goldstein says that Hilo is the longest-lasting community in the partnership. “This program is alive and well in Hawai‘i,” says Goldstein. “Thanks to Gemini, the Big Island community, and all of the Mauna Kea observatories, the spirit of JttU continues to grow in many new and exciting ways – ways that even I couldn’t have even imagined when we started the program back in 1991.”

In 2013 over 350 classrooms and almost 8000 students experienced JttU presentations in their schools. In addition, events such as a family science day at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, educational workshops for teachers, as well as events for the businesses who support the program, bring science education to the forefront of the Big Island community. The Hawai‘i Department of Education is a primary partner in the program and stresses the importance of the partnership between the observatories, the Big Island community, and local classrooms.