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UH Hilo Summer Science ASTRO-Vaganza to launch MKAEC’s educational programs

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Date: Monday, June 27, 2005
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawaii at Hilo Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center is gearing up for its public opening later this year by hosting its first Center-based educational program. The 2005 Summer Science ASTRO-Vaganza runs from Monday, June 27 through Friday, July 1, at the MKAEC in the University Park of Science and Technology in Hilo. The timing of the ASTRO-Vaganza coincides with NASA’s Deep Impact mission, which will take place the evening of Sunday, July 3. The ASTRO-Vaganza is a collaborative effort of MKAEC, NASA, observatories, including Caltech, Gemini, Joint Astronomy Centre, Subaru, University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy and the Smithsonian, UH Manoa’s Curriculum Research and Development Group and UH Hilo’s College of Continuing Education and Community Service.

“We had ASTRO-Vaganzas in 2000 and 2001, but this will be the first one in the Center,” said MKAEC Director Dr. Marlene Nachbar Hapai.

“We are offering a two- and three-credit class for teachers from K-12. We are also inviting teachers who are interested to stay over for the July 3 Deep Impact mission, which is happening through NASA, where they’re hitting a comet with a probe to find out its contents. A number of additional activities are being planned by the observatories to share this event with the public and the teachers in this program.”

Weeklong events for the teachers include classes and activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, Monday through Friday, with a lunch break, in addition to two required evening events.

“Presently, we have 31 teachers coming from eight different states, including Hawai‘i, Indiana, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Minnesota and Idaho and also from Japan,” Hapai explained. “This is the first step in making this Center the local, national and international educational center it is meant to be.”

The week includes lectures, activities, a tour of all observatory base facilities at University Park, demonstrations of techno-teaching, science and culture on Mauna Kea, NASA Deep Impact Mission, Polynesian wayfinding, the use of storytelling to teach science and science at the edge of the solar system, as well as an outing to Hale Pohaku at the 9,300-foot level of Mauna Kea.

Lecturers and instructors for the ASTRO-Vaganza include: Dr. Richard Crowe, UH Hilo professor of astronomy; Dr. Carol Brennan and John Southworth of the UH Manoa Curriculum Research and Development Group; Dr. William Priestley, former UH Hilo ASTRO-Vaganza program co-director; Koa Ell of the UH Institute for Astronomy; Peter Michaud, Gemini Observatory; Maura Rountree-Brown, NASA Jet Propulsion
Laboratory; Sheri Asplund, NASA Discovery Program; Desmond Antone, Hokule‘a crewmember; and Dr. Marlene Nachbar Hapai, Caroline Maxwell, Uilani Pihana and Kent Hindes from MKAEC.

Hapai said that teachers enrolled in the weeklong course will share what they’ve learned with other teachers and schoolchildren at the end of the course.

“The teachers will be helping to develop new curriculum,” she elaborated, “as well as be given activities and asked to adapt these activities to their grade levels, and we’re asking them to present one of these activities to other teachers and schoolchildren on the last day, which is Friday, July 1. The teachers will present their activities between noon and 3 p.m. on Friday. This will be part of the class for the teachers in the program, because part of the curriculum development is implementation. We’ll then evaluate. How did the presentation go? What was the response, especially from the children? Then they’ll revise their activities accordingly and submit them for their grades.

“We would like to invite other teachers and children K-12 to come and enjoy these activities, and we’re focusing on summer programs, so we’re already anticipating some children coming,” she added. “Copies of the activities and classroom sets of the June 22, 2003, Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald insert ‘Stars over Mauna Kea’ will be available for visiting teachers. The Girl Scouts are having a Deep Impact getaway here in Hawai‘i, which will include Girl Scouts from all over the U.S. They’re going to be part of our activity that afternoon and they’ll be presenting their Afternoon Astronomy Club to teachers and other children.”

Schools and summer programs interested in bringing children K-12 to the Friday afternoon event are asked to call MKAEC at 933-3917 to reserve space.

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