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STEM Event Brings Together Students From Around the World

July 23, 2015, 11:04 AM HST
* Updated July 23, 11:15 AM
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Big Island students and teachers have been meeting with fellow astronomy and science enthusiasts from around the world this week as part of a forum at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i.

Thirty-one students and teachers representing each of the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory partner countries joined together starting last week. The event began on July 20 and will continue until Friday.

Eight students and three teachers from St. Joseph School, Kealakehe High School, and Kamehameha Schools-Hawai‘i represented the United States. An additional 15 high school students and five teachers from Canada, China, India and Japan also participated.

According to a press release, the third annual Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Summit provides high schools students with a forum for in-depth learning and collaboration.

Hosted by the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i, the event was sponsored by the TMT International Observatory and the Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee, with cooperation from the Hawai’i Space Grant Consortium and University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

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The summit included “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. Participating students had a chance to interact with scientists and engineers to exchange ideas and solutions that advance their shared interests in science technology engineering and math disciplines.

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Astronomers, engineers and distinguished community leaders delivered keynote presentations throughout the week to inspire the students to pursue their interest in STEM disciplines.

The summit also included immersive experiences in ‘Imiloa’s Exhibit Hall and Planetarium, leadership training exercises, and off-site field trips for stargazing and to explore Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.  Students also shared 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 Ka’iu Kimura, executive director of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i. “Helping students appreciate the history and cultural context of the science they are learning deepens their insights and understanding.”

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The attendee list for the 2015 summit includes Kehan Yang, a member of the Chinese delegation who was the winner of the TMT Engineering Challenge at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Yang’s wall-climbing WiFi-based Reconnaissance Robot uses negative pressure absorption, four-wheel drive, and is controlled by a cell phone Java application, which transmits digital and video signals simultaneously to an embedded wireless module on the robot. The light robot materials were produced using 3D-printing technology. Another summit participant, a Kamehameha Schools student from Oʻahu, recently represented the state of Hawai‘i at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Modelled after the acclaimed Ritsumeikan Japan Super Science Fair and International Student Science Fair, PAES is designed not only to expand students’ learning opportunities, but also to foster future collaboration among student scientists.

“International cooperation is really necessary for young scientists,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, Ritsumeikan High School principal in a press release, who first hosted the Japan Super Science Fair twelve years ago. “I believe participants broadened their horizons and constructed a global network.”

For more information about the 2015 Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Summit contact Margaret Shiba, Director of Institutional Advancement, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center,[email protected] or visit http://www.paes.hawaii-conference.com.

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