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Manoa Open House 2006

Making sundials
Making sundials. Photo by Joey Nikaido.

courtyard telescopes

Top: courtyard telescopes. Middle: Ask an Astronomer. Bottom: Phases of the Moon. Photos by Andrea Szapudi.

About 3,000 people attended the IfA Manoa Open House on April 30. This year, we had several new activities for children, including the Mars Drop, Make a Constellation, and the Solar System Search, as well as lectures, demonstrations, and displays for people of all ages.

The Mars Drop was based on NASA's rover missions to Mars, in which the rovers Spirit and Opportunity were encased in airbags that cushioned their landings on the red planet. The mission for the Mars Drop was to design a container out of everyday materials—bubble wrap, cardboard, balloons, plastic bags—that would keep a raw egg intact when it was dropped from the IfA's second floor. Happily (especially for the clean-up crew), most of the young space engineers succeeded in this mission.

Younger children enjoyed the opportunity to draw a constellation—Ursa Major, Taurus, Orion, or Canis Major. Those participating received a sky chart that showed the Honolulu sky at 8 p.m. that evening to enable them and their parents to find their constellation.

At the Solar System Search table, children and adults learned about the different sizes of the planets in our solar system with a hands-on scale model.  The young explorers then set out to find the "planets," which were hidden at scaled distances around the IfA grounds. Collecting a stamp from each of the hidden planets earned them a special prize.

Adults and children had the opportunity to attend two sets of family lectures that covered astronomy in Hawaii in the past (King David Kalakaua's support for astronomy), the present (the new Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on Haleakala), and the future (possibilities for new observatories in Hawaii), as well as discussions of this year's total solar eclipse, last year's Deep Impact mission to a comet, the birth of stars, the origin of Earth's oceans, dark matter and dark energy, cosmic neutrinos in Antarctica, and  killer asteroids. But perhaps the most exciting "lecture" was not a lecture at all, but a puppet show, `Ano Lani `Ano Honua, that connected traditional Hawaiian culture with modern astronomy.

Mars Drop

A parent assists her child to prepare an egg for the Mars Drop.
Photo by Kathryn Whitman.

Making Comets

Postdoctoral fellow Lisa Kewley displays the gloves needed to handle the dry ice used in the Make a Comet activity. Photo by Andrea Szapudi.


Making bottle rockets

Making bottle rockets. Photo by Joey Nikaido.