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IfA in the Community

hula ki`i

Photo by Gary Fujihara.

IfA staff members have participated in many educational events for the community throughout the year. Koa Ell, Community Outreach Assistant in the Science Education and Public Outreach (SEPO) office, has developed a workshop that includes a short presentation on King David Kalakaua and his interest in astronomy, and an opportunity for participants to build their own telescopes. Ell also works with Kupuna Leilehua Omphroy and Hawaiiana O Honomu to present "Ano Lani Ano Honua, the Relationship between Heaven and Earth," which connects Hawaiian culture and modern astronomy through hula kii (hula dancers using hand-carved puppets).
On July 3, 2005, the day of the Deep Impact, Ell conducted a blessing at the Kuahu Lele (altar) at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station for the Girl Scouts of America and gave her presentation, "Journey of Discovery of Mauna Kea," which covers both the scientific and cultural aspects of the mountain. Girl Scouts on Mauna Kea

Photo by Rick Ell.

Make-A-Wish child and parents on Mauna Kea

Photo by Gary Fujihara.

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Hawaii  contacted IfA about facilitating a tour of Mauna Kea for a wish child. On October 28, 2005, IfA Science Education and Public Outreach Officer Gary Fujihara conducted a tour for Chris Bolen and his parents. Fujihara comments, "Chris has a positive, uplifting outlook on life, despite having life- threatening health problems that require crippling therapy. Chris is an amazing guy. It was truly wonderful spending time with him and his loving and supportive mom and dad. Chris wants to be a photographer when he grows up, and hearing him speak of his passions leaves no doubt in my mind he will achieve all he sets out to attain."
On Oahu, astronomers Paul Coleman and Gareth Wynn-Williams, and several graduate students participated in the annual Lacy Veach Day of Discovery held on October 29 at Punahou School. This day honors the life of Charles Lacy Veach, who grew up in Honolulu and as an astronaut flew on two space shuttle missions. Coleman instructed students on the use of the Faulkes Telescope, a research-grade telescope dedicated to education and outreach that is located on Haleakala on Maui ( Paul Coleman at Lacy Veach Day

Photo byArt Kimura.

career day

Photo by Gary Fujihara.

In November, the IfA SEPO team participated in the 2005 Keaau High School Career Fair with an exhibit that several students and teachers described as having the "best stuff." We featured a video of Kumulipo (Hawaiian creation chant), a voyaging canoe slide show, a display panel with posters, literature, UH Hilo Physics and Astronomy program brochures, and an optics challenge with a floating pig. SEPO Officer Gary Fujihara stated, "We were able to interact with many students, teachers, and others in the community. I think the most noticeable difference since our last visit was the number of girls who expressed interest in pursuing a career in science or technology. They were probably attracted to our booth by the presence of Koa Ell."

In January 2006, the SEPO office took part in the second annual Journey Through the Universe "Journey Week" ( with visiting scientists making classroom presentations alongside local scientists, and Family Science Nights for the entire community to enjoy. Hilo is one of 10 communities in the United States that has been designated a Journey through the Universe site. The program engages the community in sustained science, math, and technology education in a celebration of human exploration: how we have come to know what we know about the Universe, and the joys of learning. The program results from the efforts of community groups, Mauna Kea Observatories, the Hawaii Department of Education, and the University of Hawaii at Hilo, as well as the National Center for Space, Earth, and Flight Sciences Education.

The week ended with 2006 Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day. The SEPO office coordinated this remembrance of Ellison Onizuka, a Hawaii-born astronaut who died in the Challenger disaster 20 years ago (

In February, Koa Ell has been working with 21st Century Learning (, based in Phoenix, Arizona, to deliver her powerful presentations on the science and culture of Mauna Kea through the modern vehicle of video conferencing over the Internet. Remote educational audiences throughout the country can see and hear Koa speak, while her slide show can be viewed simultaneously. Koa gives presentation over Internet

Photo by Gary Fujihara.