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Moore Foundation announces gift to 'Imiloa Astronomy Center

Funding will support teaching Big Island school children the culture, history and scientific wisdom of Hawaiʻi‘s peoples and its connection to Wester

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Posted: Aug 14, 2008

The ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi has an ambitious goal: Over the next two years, they want every student on the Big Island, grades kindergarten through 12, to visit. And with the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, that goal is within reach.

The ʻImiloa Astronomy Center has become a popular venue for youth group field trips. "We are extremely excited about this opportunity to provide a greater educational outreach to Hawaiʻi‘s school children," said Kaʻiu Kimura, associate director of the Center. "We hope our communities will contribute to these hands-on learning experiences. The areas of science, technology, engineering and math are sorely underserved. We believe that by connecting science through culture and creating relevance in our educational programs, we can stimulate a renewed excitement of these studies for our younger generations."

Teachers will be given curriculum in advance to prepare for the trip and build students‘ excitement and understanding of the topics shared at ʻImiloa. Post-visit lesson plans are being developed to encourage continued learning.

Students give the Center high marks. "The shows in the Planetarium were fantastic. It was like we were touching the stars," said Kate. "ʻImiloa is a splendid place," said Kai. "I learned a lot of things about space, and I am now interested in being an astronomer."

"The pilot project ʻAdopt-a-Class,‘ established last year in Hilo by local businessman Richard Ha motivated the Moore Foundation to make this grant to ʻImiloa," said Jim Omura, Senior Program Officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. "In the ʻAdopt-a-Class‘ initiative, community groups collaborated and adopted classes at Keaukaha Elementary School where admission to ʻImiloa allowed school children to visit free of charge. We felt that this was a great initiative and we hope that the Moore Foundation grant will help to generate even more community support for education on the Big Island."

Located on a nine-acre campus above the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the Center features a spectacular architectural design, the state‘s largest planetarium, interactive exhibits, group tours, a café and frequently hosts unique and fun events. It has become Hawaiʻi‘s premiere facility for interpreting the deepest mysteries of the universe being unraveled atop Maunakea through a Hawaiian worldview. With leadership from UH Chancellor Rose Tseng and with committed support from Senator Daniel Inouye and the Hawaiʻi Island community, a team of scientists and Hawaiian language educators developed the Center to meet the need for a comprehensive educational facility that would showcase the connections between the rich traditions of Hawaiian culture and the groundbreaking astronomical research conducted on Maunakea. ʻImiloa opened its doors to the public in February of 2006.

In order to encourage community support for education on the Big Island, the Moore Foundation‘s $670,000 grant contains a 2 to 1 matching element. The UH Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation extend an invitation to the community to make sure all Hawaiʻi schoolchildren have the opportunity to visit. You can donate online at (select "Imiloa Astronomy Center," then "Moore Matching Fund"), or by calling 808.979.9732 or mailing contributions to the ʻImiloa Development Office at 600 ʻImiloa Place, Hilo, HI 96720 ATTN: Visit ʻImiloa, Moore Matching Fund.

"During the last academic year, more than 8,000 elementary school students from the Big Island, neighbor islands, the mainland, Saipan, Okinawa and Japan visited," said UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng. "Who knows? Perhaps among them was the future scientist who will help unravel the mysteries of deep space."