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Journey Through the Universe – Seven Years of Exploration

March 15, 2011

2011 Journey Through the Universe teacher workshop, attended by over 70 local educators, was held at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Education Center, adjacent to the Gemini North Base Facility.

Waiakea Elementary School students learn about our solar system and the relative locations of the sun, planets, moons, asteroids and comets.

Kellen Bello, a former Journey Through the Universe student now enrolled in the astronomy program at University of Hawai‘i - Hilo, assists a student at Kapiolani Elementary School. This demonstration allows students to see first-hand how the mirror is cleaned with carbon dioxide snow.

Seven years ago, Gemini Observatory began a modest program in our local Big Island community called Journey Through the Universe (JTtU). At that time the program was administered (Nationally) by the National Center for Earth and Space Education and Gemini began a journey, the magnitude of which nobody could have anticipated back then.

Today, JTtU on the Big Island has grown almost beyond recognition from those early days. In its 2011 incarnation, which occurred from February 10-18, a diverse and impressive number of participants joined in the excitement. To summarize the program’s impact, over 6,500 students joined over 50 scientists, engineers and educators from local (and national) observatories and educational organizations. 310 classes participated with the help of 31 “Ambassadors” who escorted visiting educators who, for many, hadn’t seen a K-12 classroom since they were there as students themselves!

The unique partnership between Gemini, other local observatories, the Hawai‘i state Department of Education (Hilo, Laupahoehoe, Waiakea district), the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (including the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Education Center) and multitudes of local businesses and leaders is making this program not only a flagship program for Gemini, but a model that others are now looking to emulate. According to Jeff Goldstein, who originated the national Journey Through the Universe program in 1999, “The Big Island program is everything JTtU is supposed to be, professional scientists interacting directly with students and teachers, and an entire community immersed in science education and the joys of learning."

For more information on Gemini’s Journey Through the Universe program, see:

Download the 2011 program report (12.8MB PDF) at:

Gemini Observatory Participants