UH Hilo sponsors Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day: 5th-12th graders inspired to explore space and science

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Jan 27, 2001

Classrooms at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo were filled with studentsyounger than usual today as the campus hosted over 300 5th through 12thgraders with an Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day of interactive workshopsand exhibits.

The event was named in honor of Big Islander Colonel Ellison Onizuka,one of seven astronauts who died 15 years ago in the January 28, 1986 spaceshuttle disaster. The event opened with a joint assembly of students, parentsand teachers, with addresses by UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng wearing amock-up space suit and Onizuka's brother, Claude Onizuka.

The morning's activities included over 30 hands-on scientific workshopsand exhibits covering 16 topics under the guidance of UH Hilo professors,and scientists and teachers from throughout the State of Hawaiʻi. Workshopsincluded sunspot viewing through telescopes, Hubble Space Telescope modelbuilding, measuring active volcanoes, living in space, space art, exploringthe stars over Hawaiʻi, making and filming lava, and chemistry magic withpolymers, to name a few.

World-renowned astronomer Dr. Keiichi Kodaira and space shuttle veteranAstronaut Dr. Steve Hawley gave the keynote addresses in the afternoon.

Kodaira, UH Hilo professor emeritus from the Astronomical Observatoryof Japan, engaged students, parents, and members of the community with histalk on searching for life in space.

Hawley, a veteran of four space shuttle flights including deploymentand servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope, shared his memories of AstronautOnizuka (they were flight school classmates) and also spoke about his ownadventures on the space shuttle.

A display area on the Mookini Library Lanai included interactive exhibitsby the Subaru Telescope, Hawaiʻi Island Math and Science 4-H Clubs, theLyman Museum, the Onizuka Space Center of Kona, the Center for the Studyof Active Volcanoes (CSAV), and various UH Hilo departments and programs.

The day was a collaborative effort of UH Hilo, the Department of Education,the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center, the Hawaiʻi Space Grant College,the Ellison Onizuka Space Center, and the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration (NASA) to reach out to the Big Island's youth and inspirea love of space and science.