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lots of children in red shirts
ʻIke Kai keiki at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center. (Photo credit: ʻImiloa Astronomy Center)

As part of a six-week Hawaiʻi County summer program, 52 Hilo-area keiki visited the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo ʻImiloa Astronomy Center on July 11. The visit to the center gave participants a “mauka” immersion to contrast the “makai” setting of the STEM-focused ocean awareness ʻIke Kai program.

Participants ranging in age from 5 to 13 took part in guided activities throughout the center’s exhibit hall. These included exploring the water cycle, Poliʻahu and snow on Maunakea, tracing weather patterns and hurricanes on “Science on a Sphere” and learning about the challenges of packing water for a long-distance sail on Hōkūleʻa.

In ʻImiloa’s CYBER-Canoe participants identified constellations in the night sky useful in oceanic navigation and viewed projections of geological changes in island land mass. They also watched a presentation on black holes in ʻImiloa’s planetarium.

lots of children in red shirts at Imiloa Astronomy Center
(Photo credit: ʻImiloa Astronomy Center)

The visit was designed to build on components of ʻIke Kai, a 14-year-old summer program funded by Hawaiʻi County that offers local youngsters an opportunity to combine daily sessions of morning work (e.g., restoring tidepools, monitoring turtle cleaning stations, learning ocean safety and marine science) and afternoon play at the ocean. At the heart of this ocean awareness program is time spent learning to sail and maintain Keaukaha’s traditional sailing canoe, Kiakahi, under the direction of its captain and ʻIke Kai Director Kalani Kahalioumi.

“The majority of our kids live and go to school next to the ocean in Keaukaha, so it was great to be able to expose them to ʻImiloa’s impressive exhibits on the Big Island’s contrasting climate zones, the sky above and universe beyond,” said Kahalioumi.

The all-expense-paid expedition was funded through the Ilima Piʻianaiʻa Endowment at ʻImiloa.

“We’re grateful to the Piʻianaiʻa family for making this day possible and hope to continue collaborating with ʻImiloa on culture-based STEM enrichment programming,” said Kahalioumi.

About the Ilima Piʻianaiʻa Endowment

The Ilima Piʻianaiʻa Endowment was established in the spring of 2017 through a gift from Gordon and Norman Piʻianaiʻa to honor the legacy of their late sister. Ilima Piʻianaiʻa had a noteworthy career in education and public service, including serving as a Hawaiʻi County planner, director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, director of the Office of International Relations and Affairs and deputy director of the state Department of Agriculture.

“ʻImiloa is privileged to help honor Aunty Ilima through our first permanent endowment, a fund that will benefit the center in perpetuity and enable us to share our unique brand of programming with both current and future generations of young people,” said ʻImiloa Executive Director Kaʻiu Kimura.

To make a gift to the Ilima Piʻianaiʻa Endowment, visit the UH Foundation website.

Read more about the visit at the ʻImiloa Astronomy website.

Read more about the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center in UH News.

children looking at star on a screen
(Photo credit: ʻImiloa Astronomy Center)
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