Institute for Astronomy Home
IFA Home Page   |    Search   |    Other Editions    No. 15 - 2005 
  All Articles  


UH NAI Team Sponsors Traveling Exhibit, Workshops

by Mary Kadooka, IfA Research/Education Specialist

NAI Exhibit

Kaipo Fujihara helped his dad, Gary Fujihara (IfA science education and public outreach officer), set up the NAI astrobiology exhibit at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo.

To introduce the excitement of astrobiology research to people throughout Hawaii, the University of Hawaii NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) team (see Na Kilo Hoku no. 10) sponsored a traveling exhibit entitled "Astrobiology: Life in Other Worlds." This interactive video exhibit allowed viewers to learn about tubeworms, crabs, and other creatures living on the ocean floor in hydrothermal vents at depths of thousands of feet.

The exhibit traveled from the Hawaii State Library in Honolulu, to the Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo, the community colleges on Maui and Kauai, and the Kapolei Public Library between January 14 and March 31. Aloha Airlines donated transportation of the exhibit between islands.

Kalaheo teachers

Kalaheo teachers Joshua Hoey and Kristal Hoey enjoyed learning about comets and astrobiology at an NAI workshop on Oahu.

The workshops emphasized using the Faulkes Telescope North on Haleakala to observe the Deep Impact target, Comet Tempel 1. Scientists suspect that comets brought to Earth substances essential for the development of life here, namely water and hydrocarbons, so part of the Deep Impact mission is to gather data on the comet's composition to see if this supposition may be true. A Deep Impact-Faulkes Telescope workshop will take place around the time of the encounter (July 2-6), with astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons from the United Kingdom guiding the observing. Student/teacher collaborations for sharing images for research are now underway, and Web site groups are being created for communication.

The astrobiology exhibit also served as the catalyst for other collaborations, both local and international. Contacts with Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii Community College physics professors have been established for future Faulkes Telescope projects. Educators from Iceland, Asta Thorlieffdottir and Vilhelm Sigmundsson, attended the workshop on Maui. David Bowdley, the education program manager for the Faulkes Telescope in the United Kingdom, and Emily Dodd, who also works on outreach for the Faulkes Telescope, came to Hawaii later to meet with teachers and students about the Deep Impact collaboration.

"Astrobiology: Life in Other Worlds" is a traveling exhibit produced by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C.
NAI at NASA Ames Research Center shipped the exhibit to Hawaii. Aloha Airlines transported the exhibit between islands.
Mary Kadooka coordinated the exhibit in Hawaii and organized the accompanying teacher workshops.