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Chilean StarTeachers Bring The Universe Into Hawai`i Classrooms

October 29, 2003

...Is a message that the StarTeachers successfully delivered to thousands of students in Chile and Hawai`i. The second-half of the inspiring StarTeachers program began on Saturday, October 11, in Waikoloa, Hawai`i, with a welcoming gala. During the gala, Gemini was honored to receive the Gabriela Mistral Medal for excellence in education from the Chilean Ministry of Education. The gala event kicked-off two weeks of teaching and cultural exchange.

Gabriela Mistral Medal

The StarTeachers have been busy on the Big Island. More images are provided in the StarTeacher's Photo Album. Additional information about the individual teachers and background information on the StarTeachers program is also available at our website.

The StarTeachers spent most of their time in schools and classrooms in East Hawaii infusing students and other educators with their love of science, astronomy and culture. They visited 9 schools total with focused efforts at the Hawaiian StarTeachers' home schools - Keaau High School, Waiakea Elementary School and Haili Christian School. They shared many great new ideas on how to teach astronomy, which is a subject that many teachers do not feel prepared to tackle. Through Gemini's Internet2 infrastructure, students in Hawai`i and Chile were connected via videoconferencing in real time. The students participated in lessons on astronomy in both Spanish and English, experienced the wonder of technology, shared culture and participated in periods of questions and answers. Students ranged in age from kindergarten to high school.

Going from Mauna Kea, to Volcano National Park, to historic sites on O`ahu, the StarTeachers saw Hawai`i in a meaningful physical and cultural context that enhanced their educational efforts.

The students and faculty at the Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki, a Hawaiian immersion charter school, welcomed the StarTeachers. They participated in a cultural exchange in three languages - Hawaiian, Spanish and English - while forging new links for science education in the native Hawaiian community. "The heavens belong to everyone," said Kauanoe Kamana, Principal of Nawahi, "and the StarTeachers program parallels our efforts to promote human interaction between different cultural groups. The stars are an important part of Hawaiian tradition."

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim and the Hawai`i County Council also met with the StarTeachers. Mayor Kim honored the StarTeachers with individual recognition awards for excellence in science education. "It is thrilling to host the Chilean StarTeachers," commented Big Island Mayor Harry Kim. "We anticipate an incredible impact on our local schools through the sharing of cultures, astronomy and technology. This program enhances the quality of teaching and astronomy education in Hawai`i."

The Chilean Ministry of Education also recognized the impact of the StarTeachers. For the first time, the Gabriela Mistral Medal for excellence in education has been awarded outside of Chile. The medal, named for the famous Nobel-Prize winning poet Gabriela Mistral, was awarded on Saturday evening in Waikoloa to the Gemini Observatory in celebration of its outstanding efforts in international astronomy education through the StarTeachers exchange program.

"The Chilean Ministry of Education is honored to award Matt Mountain, on behalf of the Gemini Observatory, this very prestigious medal as an expression of our appreciation for the opportunities that Gemini has provided to our teachers and community through the StarTeachers program," noted Celso López, Representative of the Chilean Ministry of Education in the Coquimbo region.

The StarTeachers and Gemini Observatory Public Information and Outreach staff visit Mauna Kea on October 13, 2003.

"On behalf of the Gemini Observatory," said Matt Mountain, Director, "I am honored to receive this medal as a symbol of the successful collaboration between countries and cultures to improve science education and better our understanding of the Universe. It is a deep privilege to have the Chilean Ministry of Education associate the Gemini Observatory's name with such an inspirational figure as Gabriela Mistral."

Gabriella Mistral said, "His Name is Today. We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the foundation of life. Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer 'tomorrow'. His name is 'today'."