UH NAI Team Sponsors Traveling Exhibit, Workshops
by Mary Kadooka, IfA Research/Education Specialist
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
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
"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.