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Journey Through The Universe in February 2009 - Taking Big Island Students and Teachers to the Stars and Beyond FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Issued by:
Inge Heyer
Joint Astronomy Centre
Desk: 808 969 6524

Issued by:
Janice Harvey
Gemini Observatory
Desk: 808-974-2603

Images and Web Links appear below.

27 January 2008

Journey Through The Universe in February 2009 -
Taking Big Island Students and Teachers to the Stars and Beyond

February 5-13, 2009, brings the fifth annual Journey Through The Universe program to the Hilo/Waiakea/Laupahoehoe School Complex on the Big Island of Hawai`i. During this whole week, fifty-three astronomers and technical personnel from the Mauna Kea Observatories will visit local classrooms and share their work, their experience, and their love of science and exploration with students of all grade levels. Partnering with the Department of Education, and with support from a number of local sponsors, the program brings the scientists to K-12 classrooms.

As 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, this year's Journey program is very special in the eyes of the astronomers. Big Island astronomers would like to share their love and enthusiams for the Universe and everything in it with the community. Many extra activities are planned during Journey week and for the rest of the year.

The Journey program aims to include the entire community. For teachers there will be several workshops to provide astronomy knowledge and resources for the class rooms. For families there will be two events at `Imiloa this time, a family science day on Sunday and a family science night on Wednesday. Last year the demand was so great that Sunday's whole-day event has been added. Both events will feature lots of fun science acitivites, talks by guest speakers, planetarium shows, and exhibits by the observatories.

Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai`i is one of ten Journey sites nation-wide. Since its inception, it has become the premiere site in the nation, mainly due to the enthusiastic participation of such a large number of astronomy professionals.

The local astronomy professionals are all looking forward to visiting the class rooms, albeit a few of them with some trepidation, as the idea of facing the inquisitive youngsters seems a bit daunting.

Andy Adamson (Joint Astronomy Centre) says: "I feel as excited (and, frankly, as nervous) as I always do when faced with the prospect of talking astronomy to the 7th grade! But we have so much to say that it's going to be a lot of fun as usual."

Scott Fisher (Gemini Observatory) says: "Journey is hard work, but it gives back much more than you put into it. It sounds trite, but how can you put a price on the look of awe you see in the faces of the kids? "One of the most unexpected things about Journey for me is the fact that it does make a lasting impact on the students. I am proud to say that I have been recognized by students in everyday settings like shopping in KTA. Normally I could tell they knew me by seeing a shy smile or a small wave from across the cereal aisle."

Joseph Masiero (Institute for Astronomy, Hilo) says: "I'm very excited about this year's Journey program. The students have always been engaged and receptive, and it is a lot of fun to get an opporunity to go into their classroom and share with them."

Kumiko Usuda (Subaru Telescope) says: "I think that education and public outreach is a long term endeavour. Planting a "seed" of interest in science in each child is our job, and we need continuous efforts to reach children of all ages. I am happy that knowledge of astronomy and the observatories seems to be increasing in the community, certainly the K-12 students and their families recognize the Journey name."

Kevin Caruso (StanKraft, Mainland Team) says: "It's a joy sharing the adventure of space science discoveries with students. I look forward to another great Journey Week in Hilo!"

Richard Crowe (UH Hilo Physics and Astronomy Department and `Imiloa Astronomy Center) says: "This year, 55 astronomers and astronomy educators are participating, more so than in any previous year, which shows the level of interest this terrific program has generated, not to mention the wealth of astronomy and space science expertise we have on the Big Island. It's very appropriate, too, because 2009 just happens to be the International Year of Astronomy."

Shawn Laatsch (`Imiloa Astronomy Center) says: "Journey Through the Universe is a chance for astronomers to visit schools and share the wonder of exploration with students of all ages. It puts faces on the scientists who study the skies, and gives students a chance to see how science can be fun and exiting."

Robert Potter (Subaru Telescope) says: "I had a great time in the classroom last year. It was a bit challenging at first, but I found a couple of students that were curious about the evolution of the Solar System. We also discussed why Pluto's classification changed."

John C. Hamilton (UH Hilo Physics and Astronomy Department) says: "Showing our keiki to have fun with science here on the Big Island is crucial to encouraging them to keep studying. Jobs do await the prepared!"

Inge Heyer (Joint Astronomy Centre) says: "We need to give our students all the options for future careers. Science may not be easy, but finding solutions to the world's challenges and the mysteries of the Universe is most rewarding. By sharing our experiences and love for what we do, we hope to inspire the young folk to follow us. Even more amazing discoveries await future generations of astronomers. Who knows, one of this year's Journey students might be the future astronomer to discover the first Earth-like planet circling another star."

Scheduled Journey week events include:
1. Educator Workshops: Feb. 5 (Thu) for master teachers (teacher coordinators), Feb. 6 (Fri) for all participating scientists, Feb. 7 (Sat) for all participating teachers. Other teacher training classes will take place later in the year. K-12 teachers receive training, lesson plans, and programs including inquiry-based, hands-on activities and assessment rubrics mapped to the National and Hawai`i State Science Education Standards. Astronomers will be trained in communicating their knowledge and enthusiasm effectively to children of various ages. The knowledge gained in these workshops will be applied to Journey week and throughout the school year.
2. Family Science Day (Feb. 8): `Imiloa Astronomy Center will host a day of science activities, speakers, and planetarium shows for the whole family. Tickets are required (to prevent overcrowding), which are distributed free of charge through the participating Journey schools. Members of the public may also attend this free event; they may request tickets through Gemini Observatory (Janice Harvey, 808-974-2500, The event will take place from 9am to 4pm that day.
3. Classroom visits (Feb. 9-13): Fifty-five astronomy professionals will visit local K-12 class rooms, sharing their work with over 8,000 students. They will provide knowledge, personal interaction, and examples of career possibilities to the students of the Big Island.
4. Astronomy Night at Borders (Feb. 9): Astronomers will gather at Borders in Hilo. In the children's section there will be reading, story telling, and fun activities for kids of all ages, all revolving around astronomy themes. In the newly refurbished cafe we'll have a "science cafe" round table discussion over coffee on various astronomy and science topics.
5. Family Science Night (Feb. 10): `Imiloa Astronomy Center will host a night of science activities, speakers, and planetarium shows for the whole family. Tickets are required (to prevent overcrowding), which are distributed free of charge through the participating Journey schools. Members of the public may also attend this free event; they may request tickets through Gemini Observatory (Janice Harvey, 808-974-2500, The event will take place from 4pm to 8pm that day.

Journey Through The Universe is a national education initiative developed by the National Center for Space, Earth and Flight Sciences Education. It is funded at the national level by grants from NASA’s Office of the Chief Education and Science Mission Directorate. However, it is the local team of sponsors and organizers who make this event possible. The primary sponsors include the Hawai`i Department of Eduation Hilo/Waiakea/Laupahoehoe Complex, Gemini Observatory, The University of Hawai`i at Hilo, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hilo and the Joint Astronomy Centre. Other participating sponsors include the Bank of Hawai`i, Hawai`i Island Chamber of Commerce, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Hilo Bay, the Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, KWXX Radio, Hawai`i Island Economic Development Board, Governor Linda Lingle, the Business-Education Partnership, the New West Broadcasting Corporation, Domino's Pizza, Big Island Toyota, Borders Books, Richard J. Valcourt, the Mauna Kea Observatories Outreach Committee, and all the Mauna Kea Observatories: University of Hawai`i Hoku Ke`a and 2.2m Telescopes, NASA Infrared Telescope, Gemini Observatory North, United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, James Clerk Maxwell Submillimeter Telescope, Subaru Telescope, Caltech Submillimeter Telescope, Smithsonian Submillimeter Array, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Canada-France-Hawai`i Telescope, W.M. Keck Observatory, and the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The local Journey organizing team includes Valerie Takata (Superintendent Hilo/Waiakea/Laupahoehoe Complex); Darrell Nekoba and Bess Jennings (Department of Education, Hilo/Waiakea/Laupahoehoe Complex); Gail Loeffler and Dr. Richard Crowe (`Imiloa Astronomy Center); Janice Harvey, Andolie Marten and Peter Michaud (Gemini Observatory); and Inge Heyer (Joint Astronomy Centre).


Everyone has questions during story time with the visiting astronomer. Credit: Gemini Observatory.

The Hilo Journey Team. Credit: Joint Astronomy Centre.

Teachers are developing new astronomy lessons plans. Credit: Joint Astronomy Centre.

Students and astronomers create a lunar eclipse in the class room. Credit: Joint Astronomy Centre.

Lots of keikis with lots of questions for the visiting astronomer. Credit: Joint Astronomy Centre.

A young planet-moon pair discovers the secrets of the Solar System. Credit: Joint Astronomy Centre.

A planet and his moon are looking to the Sun for directions. Credit: Joint Astronomy Centre.

Our Solar System, one happy family. Credit: Joint Astronomy Centre.

Students are determining the distances in our Solar System in the class room. Credit: Joint Astronomy Centre.

An excited visiting astronomer shares discoveries with equally excited students. Credit: Gemini Observatory.

Web Links

Journey Through The Universe in Hilo
Journey Through The Universe National
Joint Astronomy Centre Outreach
Gemini Observatory
Mauna Kea Observatories Outreach Committee
Big Island International Year of Astonomy Plans
International Year of Astronomy US Site
This press release (bottom of page)
Contact: JAC outreach. Updated: Wed Jan 28 11:14:36 HST 2009

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