Gemini Sponsors Family ASTRO Training!

Gemini Sponsors Family ASTRO Training

The Gemini North Outreach Department, along with the Submillimeter Array (SMA)sponsored another Family ASTRO training on Thursday, September 22nd, hosted by the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. These trainings provide resources and curriculum to teachers, parents and community members wishing to bring the latest exciting astronomy research into their teaching. Mimi Fuchs, of the Submillimeter Array, led participants through a series of Family ASTRO activities created by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and explored their connections to the ground breaking research of the Maunakea Observatories.


Family ASTRO Training participants Kristen Tanaka (left) and Pūnāwai Rice (right) show off their playdough solar system.

This training session, called “Discovering Strange New Planets,” utilized activities from the Family ASTRO kits “Race to the Planets” and “Moon Mission.” These are hands on, game-based activities that introduce astronomical concepts in a tactile way. Mimi’s approach used these activities to present a new framework of how to talk about the dynamic subject of exoplanets, or planets outside of our own Solar System.

A few of the questions explored during the training included: How is our own Solar System similar or different to these exoplanets? How do astronomers detect exoplanets? How can we help students visualize the distance and size scales of these new worlds? Mimi expanded these basics into an important discussion of how the astronomical community of Hawai’i is leading the way in much of this research.

The training did more than just provide resources, however. Joy Namba, a YWCA Preschool Teacher, came looking for curriculum but left with far more. “I most enjoyed the pure knowledge and excitement I heard as Mimi spoke.  She is very educated and I can hear the passion in her voice.  It makes me want to learn more.”


Instructors and participants explore activities from the “Race to the Planets” Family ASTRO Kit.

Kristen Tanaka, of Kea’au Elementary, Charlotte Godfrey-Romo of Kalaniano’ole Elementary & Intermediate, and Tara Crawford of Kapi’olani Elementary already have plans to organize Family ASTRO events of their own. Location ideas include school libraries, cafeterias and gyms. 

If you are interested in hosting your own Family ASTRO event but missed our training, don’t worry! Information about upcoming sessions and the Family ASTRO Program in general can be found at our website.


Family ASTRO Training participants pose for a parting shot holding their favorite activities.

These programs allow us to share the wonders of the universe with our Big Island community and beyond. Mahalo to Mimi Fuchs at the Submillimeter Array, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and our participants for making this training a success! 

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