Mountain View 1st Graders Visit UH Institute of Astronomy

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The entire 1st grade class of Mountain View Elementary descended on the UH Institute of Astronomy (IfA) on Friday, April 19, 2019, as part of a field trip experience to the UH Hilo campus. The 73 students and their teachers and chaperones were treated to many activities hosted by scientists, graduate students, engineers and support staff throughout the building.

The entire 1st grade class of Mountain View Elementary descended on the UH Institute of Astronomy (IfA) on Friday, April 19, 2019. PC: Maunakea Astronomy

Some of the activities included telescope viewing, learning about planets and the solar system, fun with ultraviolet light, and learning about black holes. “I was surprised that many of them knew about the recent imaging of Pōwehi,” said Christian Flores, IfA graduated student, “They are very bright and curious students.”

The group was also treated to a rare tour of the IfA Machine Shop, where instruments and equipment used on the UH managed telescopes on Maunakea are created and manufactured. Marc Cotter, manager of the shop, delighted the children by demonstrating a telescope mirror cover -opening it to reveal a stuffed rabbit inside!

“This is the second consecutive year we have brought our first-graders to IfA,” said teacher JulieAnn Hiramoto, “It was hard to tell who was more excited, the adults or the kids! Everyone learned a lot and the folks at IfA are so enthusiastic and patient. Our parent-chaperones canʻt wait for their younger children to enter the 1st grade and we can come again!”


Astronomers Mark Chun and Michael Connelley operated telescopes to show how objects are magnified. Although it was daytime and the sky was overcast, the telescopes pointed at objects in the distance, giving the students an opportunity to look through the eyepiece and understand how telescopes work.

It was a busy afternoon filled with excited six-year-olds as well as adults. Everyone who attended and volunteered were happy for the opportunity to learn and share the science of astronomy. “Itʻs rewarding to give back to the communities we live and work in,” explained Mark Chun, IfA Hilo Associate Director, “These kids are our future and we hope we inspire them as much as their enthusiasm and curiosity inspires us.”


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