Hawai'i State News

Maunakea Coin Contest is open, accepting entries from students in grades K-12

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2023 coin. Photo Courtesy: Maunakea Observatories

Hawai‘i Island students can have a chance at immortality if their design is chosen for minting of a keepsake coin as part of the annual Maunakea Observatories “Maunakea Coin Contest.”

Students can vie for the top honor of having their design on a bronze or aluminum coin for 2024. Hundreds of students enter each year, and thanks to generous community partners, the top three winners in each grade category will earn additional prizes. 

“Each year since 2011, Maunakea Observatories hosts a ‘Maunakea Coin Contest,’ open to all K-12 students of the Big Island of Hawai‘i, including homeschool students,” said Kumiko Usuda-Sato, coin contest lead organizer. “Students are invited to use their creativity to draw a design featuring various elements of culture, astronomy and nature found on or around Maunakea.”


Entries are divided into grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 categories. Category judges will select a first, second and third place winner for each of the three grade categories. A grand judge will pick the top three overall winners, and the top winner will be announced at the annual AstroDay event in Hilo on May 4 at Prince Kuhio Plaza.  

The top winner’s design will be printed on the 2024 coin. A bronze version of the coin will be available for sale, and aluminum coins will be distributed at outreach events in the coming year.

The nine category winners and the best overall three entries will also receive prizes from KTA Super Stores, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i, Galaxy Garden/Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary, East Hawai‘i Cultural Center and Maunakea Observatories.


“The Maunakea Coin Contest has been supported by the Maunakea Observatories and other partners since its first edition. It is a fun contest that encourages creative students to think about the mountain in a holistic way,” said Nadine Manset, chair of Maunakea Astronomy Outreach Committee and director of Science Operations at Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope. 

Past designs have featured plants and animals of cultural significance, such as kalo and honu; constellations; the moon; and the observatories themselves, sometimes drawn with traditional kapa designs. 

The Maunakea Coin Contest is sponsored by the Maunakea Astronomy Outreach Committee, KTA Super Stores, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i, The Galaxy Garden/Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary, East Hawai‘i Cultural Center, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and the UH Institute for Astronomy.


“KTA Super Stores has been a proud sponsor of this event for many years, and we continue to be amazed by the creativity in the designs of our Hawai‘i Island keiki,” said KTA Super Stores president Toby Taniguchi. “What a meaningful way to inspire our students to think about what Maunakea means to each of us and to our community.”

The deadline to enter the 2024 Maunakea Coin Contest is Feb. 10, 2024. Entries must use the 2024 Maunakea Coin Contest design sheet: https://www.maunakeaobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/CoinContest_form_2024.pdf.

For more information and for contest rules, visit https://www.maunakeaobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/CoinContest_rules_2024.pdf  and https://www.maunakeaobservatories.org/coincontest/.

For additional inquiries, email [email protected].

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