The first Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Education Summit, sponsored by the Thirty Meter Telescope and the County of Hawaii, and hosted at the Imiloa Astronomy Center and the University of Hawaii at Hilo, brought together high school students and educators from China, Japan, India, Canada and the Big Island for four days of intense learning and interaction.
Workshops included CCD Technology (Dr. JJ Armstrong, Institute for Astronomy), Adaptive Optics (Peter Michaud, Gemini Observatory), Polarization of Light (Dr. Saeko Hayashi, Subaru Telescope), Planetary Remote Sensing (Dr. Rob Wright, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology), The Sun (Dr. Paul Coleman, Institute for Astronomy), Light Spectroscopy (Dale Olive, Waiakea High School), Orientation to Mauna Kea (Stephanie Nagata, Office of Mauna Kea Management), and an Overview of the Hawaii Volcanoes (Janet Babb, USGS, Hawaii Volcanoes).
Team design briefs included Mars Robotics (Dale Olive and Tom Murphy, Waiakea High Robotics) and Asteroid Drilling (Christian Andersen, PISCES).
Keynote speakers included Dr. Ravinder Bhatia, Thirty Meter Telescope, Krystal Schlecter, UHH Astrophysics Club and Dr. Paul Coleman. Lt Governor Shan Tsutsui welcomed the conference participants and Representatives Mark Nakashima, Cliff Tsuji and Richard Onishi presented House certificates to each participant.
Students presented science projects and shared a cultural presentation. Field trips included sunset viewing and star gazing at Hale Pohaku and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Out of state school students were provided with an additional home stay experiences after the summit by Waiakea and Hilo High School families.
Big Island schools participating included: Hilo High School, Connections Public Charter School, Honokaa High School, and Waiakea High School.
Thirty Meter Telescope partner countries were represented by the Shri Ram School, Aravali, India; Shawnigan Lake School, British Columbia, Canada; the High School affiliated with Beihang University, Beijing, China; Ritsumeikan High School, Kyoto, Japan; and Senri High School, Osaka, Japan.
Connections Public Charter School student Clara Cellini said, “I think international conferences are very beneficial to students because we are put in new situations with new people. Bringing people of different cultures together to focus on a single goal creates a sense of unity. Every student should have the opportunity to experience this.”
An educator shared, “The knowledge, resources, connections gained are priceless. This is the optimum education environment. Students and teachers were provided with hands on problem solving activities and constructed new knowledge by collaboration. The sharing of international minds is a powerful entity that many do not get to experience. It results in, or fosters a global perspective.”
“There are many benefits to those who attended this event. You get to meet different people and experience new things. Your knowledge and imagination of the things that are possible is expanded. Your confidence level is also given a boost. Because you have to present a project, you also gain experience in presenting. You also get to go to new and different places. It is a wonderful experience that everyone should have. I am so honored to have been given the opportunity,” Waiakea High School student Olivia Murray said.
Ritsumeikan High School Principal Hiroshi, Tanaka who first hosted the Japan Super Science Fair 10 years ago in Kyoto, after which the Hawaii summit is modeled, said “International cooperation is really necessary for young scientists. I believe participants broadened their horizons and constructed a global network. I am most grateful to all who supported this Summit.”
For further information on the 2013 Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Education Summit, contact Art Kimura, Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, at [email protected].