Thirty-one students and teachers representing each of the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory partner countries gather in Hilo July 20–24 for an intensive five-day Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Summit. The United States is represented by eight students and three teachers from St. Joseph School, Kealakehe High School and Kamehameha Schools-Hawaiʻi. An additional 15 high school students and five teachers from Canada, China, India and Japan are also participating.
The summit schedule includes “hands-on/minds-on” workshops and experiential learning on topics ranging from indigenous engineering, exploring optics and the composition of meteorites, to finding exoplanets with digital cameras, making a telescope and simple robotic programming.
Students will have opportunities to interact with scientists and engineers, including many associated with astronomy on Maunakea, to exchange ideas and solutions that advance their shared interests in STEM disciplines.
“Science education and partnerships are critical to creating tomorrow’s researchers, educators, inventors and technicians, and it is they who will continue to use science, technology and culture to inspire the exploration of our universe, the advancement of our society and the preservation of our Earth for future generations,” said Henry T. Yang, chairman of the TMT International Observatory.
Each school team will be making a presentation and receiving professional feedback on a research project that they have undertaken on an aspect of astronomy or engineering. Student science presentation topics include moon phases and probability of destructive tsunami activity, how early Polynesians used the Hawaiian star compass to navigate, rock climbing robots and more.
Rounding out the summit will be immersive experiences in ʻImiloa’s Exhibit Hall and Planetarium, leadership training exercises and off-site field trips for stargazing and to explore Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The students will also be sharing cultural presentations on their home countries and cultures.
“The students involved in the summit all come from countries with rich histories in the advancement and appreciation of science,” said Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director of the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center. “Helping students appreciate the history and cultural context of the science they are learning deepens their insights and understanding.”
The third annual Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Summit is hosted by the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, the summit is made possible through the support of the TMT International Observatory and the Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee, with cooperation from the Hawaiʻi Space Grant Consortium and University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
For more information, about the 2015 Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Summit visit the Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Summit website.
—An ʻImiloa Astronomy Center news release