Journey Through the Universe 2017
The Universe is expanding… and so is the Journey Through the Universe program! From March 13-17, 70 observatory professionals and informal educators are extending their reach to districts across the Big Island. Journey Through the Universe (to be referred to as Journey in the rest of this post) includes: classroom visits for students in Hilo-Waiākea, Honokaʻa, Paʻauilo, and Waimea in grades 2-12, StarLab Portable Planetarium shows for Hilo-Waiākea students in K-1, workshops for teachers, including a workshop for 40 teachers from the Kaʻū-Keaʻau-Pāhoa Complex area to introduce the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and a NASA Lunar and Meteorite Sample Certification Workshop led by NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Instituteʻs (SSERVI) Brian Day and Joseph Minafra, as well as a public colloquia titled, “Discovery, New Frontiers, and Solar System Exploration,” by NASAʻs Brian Mitchell.
“Sustaining a program the size and magnitude of Journey is no small feat,” says Journey Team Leader Janice Harvey. “With the continual expansion of the Journey program year after year, itʻs obvious that the impact this program has on our local students and the community is substantial.”
Check this post every day during the week of Journey classroom visits for pictures and descriptions of the dayʻs events!
Classroom Visits – Friday, March 17th
On the last day of classroom visits, we followed Gemini astronomer André-Nicolas Chené and administrative specialist Natalia Gonzalez to Kalanianaʻole Elementary and Middle School. Students built 3-D models of well-known constellations and discovered that, although the constellations may look 2-D to us on Earth, each star in the constellation is a certain distance away and are often not right next to each other!
Career Panel at Waiākea High School
One of the newer additions to the Journey program is the inclusion of career panels made up of local observatory professionals. Wednesdayʻs panel included: Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope (CFHT) Director Doug Simons and Les Mizuba, Subaru Telescopeʻs Kiaina Schubert, W. M. Keckʻs Mike Aina, and Geminiʻs John Vierra and Alexis Acohido. Thursdayʻs panel included: W. M. Keckʻs Rich Matsuda, Shelly Pelfrey, Leslie Kissner, CFHTʻs Grant Matsushiga, Subaru Telescopeʻs Lucio Ramos, and Geminiʻs Jason Kalawe. Panelists shared how they got involved in working for the observatories and the path they took to get there. The panel included a wide range of careers: astronomers, engineers, human resources, web architects, and more. Students learned that having a PhD in astronomy isnʻt a requirement to working at an observatory, and in fact, astronomers only make up around 20% of an observatoryʻs staff.
Classroom Visits – Thursday, March 16th
We followed Scot Kleinman and Sylvia Kowalski to Keaukaha Elementary School. Kleinman received his PhD from the University of Texas in 1995. Currently, he is the Associate Director of Development at Gemini North, where he helps bring and develop the next generation of instruments to Gemini. Kowalski is the current Public Information and Outreach Intern at Gemini North. She graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Physics, Astronomy, and Drama.
Kleinman taught the kids how to program and they got to simulate programming the movement of the Mars Rover.
Classroom Visits – Wednesday, March 15th
Yvonne Pendleton and Jennifer Baer of NASA SSERVI visited Kapiolani Elementary School. Pendleton obtained her PhD in astrophysics from the University of California at Santa Cruz and is currently the Director of NASA SSERVI. Baer is a graphic designer at NASA SSERVI and regularly works with scientists and engineers to take complex data and turn it into easily digestible media.
Discover, New Frontiers, and Solar System Exploration
Wednesday evening, NASA’s Brian Mitchell gave a talk at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo about NASA’s current and future vision for planetary exploration. Mitchell has more than 25 years at the Marshall Space Flight Center and has worked on various Space Shuttle payload missions including ASTRO, ATLAS, and Spacelab, as well as several experiments for the International Space Station. Mitchell is currently the Education and Public Outreach manager for NASA’s Discovery/New Frontiers/Lunar Quest Program Office, where he is tasked with communicating Planetary Missions Program Office science goals and objectives to the public in order to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) participation.
Mitchell talked about the past and present NASA spacecrafts and the science they were doing at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Classroom Visits – Tuesday, March 14th
Today we followed Tomonori Usuda to Hilo Intermediate School. Usuda earned his PhD in Astronomy at the University of Tokyo and is an optical-infrared astronomer for the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. He currently leads the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project as the director of TMT-Japan. Previously, he was the associate Director of Subaru Telescope from 2006-2013.
Astronomy Educatorʻs Reception at the Naniloa
The Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of Commerce (HICC) and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaiʻi (JCCIH) hosted a welcome celebration for the astronomy community, the Department of Education and the business community. Superintendents from the Hilo-Waiākea Complex, Kaʻū-Keaʻau-Pāhoa Complex, and representatives from the Honokaʻa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex also attended the event. Guest speakers included: Janice Harvey, Journey Team Leader, Mayor Harry Kim, Gemini Director Markus Kissler-Patig, and PhD candidate and Hilo native Devin Chu. Chu shared his experiences in astronomy and how the Journey program influenced and helped guide his dream of becoming an astronomer.
Classroom Visits – Monday, March 13th
Our Public Information and Outreach department followed Devin Chu to Hilo Intermediate School and Teague Soderman to Kaumana Elementary School. Chu was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi and graduated from Hilo High School in 2010, where he was an ongoing participant in the Journey Through the Universe program He received his Bachelorʻs in Physics and Astronomy from Dartmouth in 2014, and his Masterʻs of Science in Astronomy from UCLA in 2016. He is currently working towards his PhD at UCLA while working under Andrea Ghez.
Soderman, who currently works at NASAʻs SSERVI, is a science writer with a background in creative writing and graphic design. He received his Masterʻs in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco State Univesity, and has been writing for the scientific community for over 13 years.
NASA Lunar and Meteorite Sample Certification Workshop
On Saturday, March 11th, Brian Day and Joseph Minafra, both from NASA SSERVI, held a workshop that certifies teachers to borrow lunar and meteorite samples from the historic Apollo missions. Teachers attending this workshop will also learn how to use NASA online tools to explore and visualize the surfaces of the Moon, asteroids, and Mars as seen through the eyes of many different instruments aboard a great range of spacecrafts.
Exploring the StarLab Moon Cylinder
On Thursday, March 9th, Gemini staff and NASA SSERVIʻs Brian Day explored Geminiʻs newly acquired Moon Cylinder before Day held a StarLab presentation for the after school group Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities (PUEO). Day currently acts as SSERVIʻs project manager for NASAʻs Lunar Mapping and Modeling Portal, which is a set of tools designed for mission planning, lunar science, and public outreach. Students learned about geological features and phases of the Moon, as well as past and current NASA Moon missions.
The Journey program would not exist without the time, energy, and resources from our community partners. Their ongoing support is a testament to their commitment to our children’s futures. We’d like to thank our sponsors for their support, and our educators for dedicating their time to inspiring our local Big Island students! For more information about the Journey Through the Universe program, visit our website.
Thank you to the following institutions!