Free teachers’ astronomy in the classroom workshop offered


What makes the sun a star? What are the impacts of sunspots on Earth? What are the Earth’s defenses against the sun’s harmful rays? How can the Faulkes Telescope be used in educational programs? These are just a few of the many questions to be answered in a free Teacher Training and Astronomy in the Classroom Workshop slated for Friday and Saturday at Kealakehe High School’s cafeteria and science lab (G-203).

“Studying the sun is a good beginning for science, technology, engineering and math education. Students feel comfortable because they are familiar with it. And Super M math is an exciting way to engage students in math. These workshops are designed to provide more resources to our dedicated Hawaii Island teachers. Furthering STEM education will help our children be qualified for the next generation of 21st century jobs,” said Sandra Dawson, Thirty Meter Telescope Hawaii community relations manager.

The 6 to 8 p.m. Friday program will feature a Faulkes Telescope teacher training exercise and stargazing for the entire family. Middle and high school teachers will be able to test drive the large, research-grade Faulkes Telescope and learn how to obtain and use it in their classroom. In addition, representatives from Hale Pohaku Visitor Information Station will bring telescopes, and the community is invited to participate in stargazing with VIS volunteers.

The Heliophysics in the Classroom program is from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The term heliophysics was coined in the early 1980s to denote the physics of the entire sun. The teacher training will focus on hands-on activities and demonstrations to be used for grade appropriate science courses answering the following questions. How does the sun get its energy? What are sunspots? How do you count them? How does the Earth’s magnetic field protect us from the sun’s radiation? What happens on the sun to cause the hazardous solar storms?

The astronomy teachers’ workshops are funded through a NASA heliophysics education and public outreach grant. Follow-up with the participating teachers after the workshop is planned.

Teachers will also be provided training in the innovative Super M program. Super M is a project at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate STEM Fellows in K–12 Education program. Super M creates partnerships between graduate mathematics students and K-12 teachers to design innovative, developmentally appropriate and engaging activities for K-12 students.

Childcare and astronomy, and fun math activities for the teachers’ children will be available, as will Gemini Observatory’s mobile planetarium. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served Saturday.

The workshop events are sponsored by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy and the Thirty Meter Telescope.

To reserve a spot, contact Laura Aquino at 326-7820 or laquino@current-events.com.