Astronaut highlights science day


The 13th annual Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day, featuring NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, convenes Jan. 26 on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Sunita Williams, who was born Sunita Pandya Krishna, is an Indian-American astronaut and a Navy officer who holds the record for longest space flight by a woman. She was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expeditions 14 and 15. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and then commander of Expedition 33.

In addition to holding the record for the longest space flight time among female space travelers, Williams also holds the record for number of spacewalks for a female, and most spacewalk time for a female.

This year’s program also celebrates the 28th anniversary of Ellison Onizuka’s first flight into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery, STS 51-C, which launched on Jan. 24, 1985.

A selection of more than 20 interactive science workshops, exhibits and displays await students in grades 4 through 12. At this day of science exploration and discovery, students will participate in hands-on workshops, including the DNA of strawberries, forensic science, earthquakes, technology, magic, rocks and minerals, robotics, technology in pigeon racing and more.

The University of Hawaii and the Big Island scientific community will also remember astronaut Ellison Onizuka and his passion for education. This special “Day of Remembrance” honors all those who perished in the Challenger accident, as well as others who have lost their lives in pursuit of space exploration.

The Ellison Onizuka Science Day, sponsored by the Onizuka Memorial Committee, American Savings Bank, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the UH-Hilo Conference Center and the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium is open to students in grades 4 through 12 and parents and teachers of any grade level. A free lunch, provided by American Savings Bank, for all registered students and free bus transportation from Kona and Naalehu to Hilo will be available.

An afternoon program with Hilo’s “Dale Olive” and door prizes at the conclusion of the afternoon assembly are also planned.

Registration is open now. Visit spacegrant.hawaii.edu/OnizukaDay for information and enrollment materials, phone 934-7261 or email art@higp.hawaii.edu for more information.