East Hawaii News

Kapolei Students Selected to Take Part in Maunakea Scholars Program

March 3, 2016, 12:18 PM HST
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Maunakea scholars launch at Kapolei High School. Courtesy photo.

Maunakea scholars launch at Kapolei High School. Courtesy photo.

The first four students to participate in the Maunakea Scholars program will come from Kapolei High School on Oahu.

Students selected will receive observation time within a telescope for their scientific research.

Proposals for telescope time were reviewed in February by the Maunakea Scholars time allocation committee. Students were selected based on viability, creativity, and potential.

Ashley Cobbs and Nevyn Tyau were awarded an hour to an hour and a half of observing time with the Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope using the instruments WIRCam and/or ESPaDOnS for their research proposal, “Validating or Redefining Mischaracterized Unconfirmed Exoplanets.”

Jamie Valdez and David Zerba were awarded an hour to an hour and a half of observing time with the CFHT using the instrument ESPaDOnS for their research proposal, “Quasars and What They Are Made Of.”

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CFHT Director Doug Simons and Hawai’i State Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi announced the students as selections during an assembly.

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The students have worked for months in teams of two alongside mentors from the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, analyzing data and preparing professional-style research proposals.

“To know that these astronomers went through some of the same doubts, fears, and excitement that the students were experiencing gave them the confidence and boost they needed to dedicate themselves to their proposals,” said Naidah Gamurot, Kapolei High School teacher. “Many of these students have already changed as individuals, becoming truly self-motivated and excited by the possibilities of this research.”

New students will be selected for the next phase this month from Waiakea High School. The students will then have the opportunity to visit the telescopes at the science reserve atop Maunakea for an in-depth look at the science and technology taking place.

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The students will also visit CFHT’s Waimea headquarters for a night of remote observing in the telescope control room, watching data stream live from the summit to computer systems in Waimea.

“As astronomers on Maunakea, it is critically important that we support the communities that we are a part of,” said Simons. “I hope the Maunakea Scholars program can spark inspiration and love of learning that lasts a lifetime for these students, just as my mentors did for me as a kid.”

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