‘Imiloa Astronomy Center announces mobile outreach program to start this fall

The outreach program will reach Hawai‘i Island schools and communities. 

Imiloa Astronomy Center. Large silver cone roof in background. In foreground on lava wall, signage: Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii at Hilo.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, an outreach center of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, announces its newest educational endeavor, MANU ʻImiloa, a mobile outreach program aimed at sharing ‘Imiloa’s unique brand of culture-based science education across the island.

Beginning in the fall of 2015, MANU (Modern and Ancient ways of Navigating our Universe) will take ‘Imiloa staff on the road with an interactive curriculum inspired by the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s epic Worldwide Voyage, and designed to explore the skills involved in non-instrument ocean navigation or wayfinding.

Kaʻiu Kimura
Kaʻiu Kimura

“As we prepare to celebrate ‘Imiloa’s second decade in 2016, we expect this new initiative to dramatically expand the programs offered at our Hilo center, making science accessible and culturally relevant to new audiences across our island and our state,” says Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director.

Two outreach formats

Outreach will be offered in two formats.

NOIO (Non-instrument Orientation, an Introduction to Oceanic Wayfinding) is a 30- to 60-minute package that can be delivered on request by K-12 schools and community centers, or offered as part of local events. Audiences of all ages gather around a model of the Hawaiian Star Compass or sit inside ‘Imiloa’s digital portable planetarium to learn how wayfinders rely upon the stars and their relationship with the environment to determine course and direction.

The second offering, KŌLEA (Keeping Our Legacy of Exploration Alive), is a two-week+ curriculum package designed specifically for middle school teachers to adopt for seven- and eight-grade science or math classes. Titled “The Geometry of Wayfinding,” it explores the geometry and science that undergird traditional Polynesian non-instrumental navigation. Created using Moenahā- a culture-based curriculum design and instructional model, and developed with the guidance of a teacher advisory committee, this experience aligns with Common Core State Math Standards, Nā Honua Mauli Ola Cultural Guidelines for Learners, and Next Generation Science Standards.

KŌLEA comprises six units designed to be taught over two weeks, with one unit delivered in an outreach visit by ‘Imiloa staff, and the others pre- and post-visit lessons to be taught by the classroom teacher.

“The Geometry of Wayfinding explores real-life math applications, showing students how wayfinders utilize their knowledge of angle degrees and angle pair relationships in the Hawaiian Star Compass to organize the horizon, calibrate and properly orient themselves to their surrounding environment and to determine position,” says Celeste Haʻo, ‘Imiloa’s outreach coordinator who recently served as apprentice navigator aboard Hōkūleʻa as part of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Specialized training for teachers

Along with curriculum, KŌLEA offers participating teachers specialized training, access to customized educational materials and traveling toolkits, and opportunities to engage with crewmembers from the Worldwide Voyage.

The 2015-2016 KŌLEA program will be limited to a first cohort of 10 enthusiastic and passionate middle school teachers across Hawaiʻi Island. Selected teachers must complete program requirements and participate in an inaugural teacher workshop slated for Oct. 5-7, 2015. Applications for the 10 places open Monday, June 1, and close Saturday, August 15, 2015; selection committee decisions will be announced by September 1.