Subaru Scientists Visit Hawai`i Classrooms during the Third Annual “Journey Week”

May 14, 2007

“Journey through the Universe” is an educational program for the community, organized by Gemini Observatory, the Hawai`i Department of Education Hilo-Laupahoehoe-Waiakea Complex, `Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai`i, and University of Hawai`i Hilo. This year local scientists visited classrooms on Hawai`i Island during “Journey Week” from January 19 to 26, 2007. This program may be familiar to you from the “Subaru Topic” article from last year when Subaru Telescope was also a co-sponsor of the program.

During Journey Week, a team of 34 scientists including 2 visiting scientists and 23 volunteer logistics coordinators visited eighteen K-12 schools and shared their enthusiasm for science with about 8,000 students. The numbers of participating local scientists and logistics coordinators were 1.5 times and 2.5 times higher than in 2006, respectively. The high level of participation meant that the scientists could visit students in their own classrooms and give more intimate and interactive presentations. In the past two years, a visiting scientist from the mainland and a local scientist from an observatory at Mauna Kea visited classrooms together, and the local scientist gave a short talk before the main presentation by the visiting scientist. This year, both local scientists and the visiting scientists gave feature presentations.

From Subaru Telescope, 8 scientists – Dean De Sa, Saeko Hayashi, Catherine M. Ishida, Ryoko Ishioka, Scot Kleinman, Satoshi Mayama, Michihiro Takami, and Kumiko S. Usuda the coordinator for Subaru members – visited 9 schools, made 30 presentations, and reached 1,100 students in total. They chose their specific topics: star and planet formation, exoplanets, dark matter and dark energy, technology of the Subaru Telescope, electromagnetic wave and its spectrum with a spectroscope, why Pluto is no longer a planet, introduction of astrobiology by thinking the case of how to survive on Mars, and so on. They talked at appropriate levels for grades and got positive feedbacks from teachers. The teachers and the logistics coordinators will share their experiences and impressions of the Journey Week with people in the community.

The Journey through the Universe program consists of three components: teacher training, family science night, and classroom visits. After the Journey week, Professional Development (PD) Courses for teachers were held at base facilities of Subaru Telescope and Gemini Observatory, and Hale Pohaku. From Subaru, Kumiko S. Usuda and Catherine M. Ishida gave two lectures out of five. They gave local friendly presentations with hands-on activities, and made good connections with teachers.

The Journey through the Universe program is a national educational initiative developed by the National Center for Space, Earth, and Flight Sciences Education (NC-SEFSE). The national program is funded by grants from NASA's Office of the Chief Education Officer and the Science Mission Directorate. Hilo, Hawai`i is currently one of 10 communities around the nation that are designated Journey through the Universe sites, and cultivating new ground by carrying out the program with local talent this year. Some scientists saw a rise in students’ knowledge and interest in astronomy. The relationships among scientists, logistics coordinators, and organizers are getting deeper and closer thanks to the yearly events. Activities of science education and public outreach (E/PO) will continue though the Journey program and other local events, and the awareness and interests of astronomy will heighten for the international year of astronomy coming up in 2009.

Journey through the Universe Hawai`i Site
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Local and visiting scientists with Journey organizers after astronomer workshop on January 20 at `Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai`i

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