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Big Island youth urged to pursue science at Second Annual Onizuka Day event

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Date: Saturday, January 26, 2002
Contact: Walter Dudoit, (808) 974-7642, (808) 895-5826

For Immediate Release

The study of space and science was the order of the day when 450 5th through 12th graders on the Big Island took part in the Second Annual Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day held on Saturday, January 26, 2002 at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo.

The event honored Colonel Ellison Onizuka, the Kona-born astronaut who died along with his six fellow classmates when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off on January 28, 1986.

The all-day event included an opening with a general assembly of students, parents and teachers, featuring addresses from UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng, Onizuka's brother, Claude Onizuka, and a video tribute.

"We have named this very special community event after Astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who grew up on the Big Island just like you students here in the audience," Tseng said in her welcome remarks. "Colonel Onizuka had a love of space and science from when he was a young boy growing up in Kona. And when he grew up to become a NASA astronaut, more than anything else in the world, he wanted to share his love of space and science with young students everywhere.

"So it is in Astronaut Ellison Onizuka's memory that the University of Hawai`i at Hilo shares the world of science with you today." The morning was highlighted by more than 20 hands-on scientific workshops covering a wide variety of topics, conducted by UH Hilo faculty, scientists and teachers from throughout the State of Hawai`i. Workshop sessions included star gazing, living in space, earthquake and tsunami generation, space art, exploring underwater space, and chemistry magic with polymers, to name a few.

The afternoon session featured a keynote address by Dr. Shannon W. Lucid, a veteran space shuttle astronaut who was a member of the same 1978 astronaut class attended by Onizuka. In addition to sharing recollections of her fellow classmate, Lucid spoke about her own adventures in space. Lucid, who has flown five space shuttle missions, set the United States single mission space flight endurance record while stationed aboard the Russian Space Station Mir.

The Mookini Library Lanai took on an interactive atmosphere with exhibits and displays by the Onizuka Space Center of Kona, the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes, the Subaru Telescope, Civil Air Patrol, and various UH Hilo programs and departments.

The event was a collaborative event presented by UH Hilo, American Savings Bank, the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center, the Department of Education, the Hawai`i Space Grant College, the Ellison Onizuka Space Center, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as an educational outreach effort to promote interest in space and science among Big Island youth.

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