On the morning of February 13th, students assembled in the Waiākea High School library, eagerly anticipating the results of their months of hard work – to find out who would receive telescope time?
As a mentor to the Waiākea High School students, I am biased, but these students rock! Waiākea HS is unique to our program for many reasons that make them special. As one of the first schools to enter the Maunakea Scholars program in its infancy, they have grown with us year-on-year. The students of Waiākea have taught us how to foster a fantastic working environment and always enchant us with the level of sophistication in their ideas.
This year the Waiākea students submitted over 50 fantastic proposals, more than any other school in the program. Unfortunately, we could not allocate time to everyone, but this was not for lack of quality! For many of our students, we do not yet have the technology to carry out their ideas!
I am so proud of the Waiākea HS Mauankea Scholars of 2020. You smashed it!
– Jessica Stasik
This years winners:
Our Scholars Experience the Biggest Annual Astronomy Conference
Happy New Year from the Maunakea Scholars team! We kicked this year off by inviting a group of our scholars to Oahu!
Every year the American Astronomical Society (or AAS for short) holds an enormous winter conference. Astronomers from all over the world come to network, share their research, learn about new technologies and celebrate astronomy! This year the AAS Winter meeting was held at the convention center in Honolulu, between the 4th – 8th January.
The Maunakea Scholars team are always looking for new opportunities for our students to experience astronomy and STEM outside of the classroom, so we invited them to Honolulu to visit us at the conference! Our group of scholars represented many of our islands and joined with hundreds of high school students for an open day.
The day started with an inspiring speech on what it means to be brave, by JCMT deputy director Jessica Dempsey. Jess has achieved many amazing feats during her astronomy career, including spending winter at the South Pole!
The students were then invited to the exhibit hall where they were given a number of demonstrations by exhibitors. These included agencies like the National Science Foundations (NSF), telescopes on Maunakea and even space telescopes like Chandra.
Unfortunately, the AAS meeting occurs in a different city every year so we cannot provide this same opportunity to our students next year; however, mentors and teachers alike have come away with inspiring ideas for communicating astronomy in the classroom to our next cohort of Maunakea Scholars!
As the new school year commences, we are happy to announce our program this year will be heading to SIX Hawaiian Islands! The schools listed below will be participating with proposal writing and summit tours, with the best proposals being allocated time on one of our eleven participating telescopes!
This years participating schools are:
- Hawaii Island
Honokaa High School students win telescope time on two of the most powerful telescopes
April 17, 2018: The final Maunakea Scholars awards ceremony of the year was held at Honokaa High School. After months of traveling around the state awarding telescope time, it was satisfying to wrap up the year on the Big Island. The 2017-2018 school year was a busy and exciting time, with a record number of schools and students participating. Twenty-six projects and thirty-six students received time on the Maunakea Observatories, Las Cumbres Observatory and Robo-AO.
“The number of students we worked with this year is incredible. In our first year, we worked with two schools and awarded ten students telescope time. To see the program grow at this rate with the quality of the proposals improving each year is a testament to our teachers, students and mentors” said Mary Beth Laychak, outreach manager at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. “We continue to be impressed with the big questions in astronomy that our students seek to solve.”
The Honokaa High School Maunakea Scholars winners include:
- “The Key to Detecting Dark Matter” by Keilani Steele. Keilani will use the W.M. Keck Observatory to observe the Draco dwarf galaxy to map the galaxy’s rotation curve. She is the first two time awardee of telescope time in the Maunakea Scholars program.
- “Investigating Malin 1” by Shania Ebreo and Kiralee Tanaka.Shania and Kira used the Subaru Telescope to observe the largest known disk galaxy Malin 1 in late April. They want to study star formation in the galaxy.
The Honokaa students wasted no time in collecting their data. Shania and Kira observed Malin 1 at the Subaru Observatory on April 22nd, less than a week after receiving their telescope time.
Congratulations to all the students that received telescope time this year. We are excited to see what your future holds and where your research takes you.
Waipahu High School Students Win Research Time with the Maunakea Observatories
April 16, 2018: Nearly a month after our previous awards ceremony on Molokai, we visited Waipahu High School to award their first ever telescope time. In their inaugural year, Waipahu students exceeded expectations and submitted four world class proposals, including two that received telescope time. Waipahu students are also the first to receive telescope time on the 10meter W.M. Keck Observatory atop Maunakea.
“The addition of the Keck Observatory this year means that Hawaii high school students now have access to four of the largest telescopes in the world; Keck I and II, Gemini North and the Subaru Telescope” said Mary Beth Laychak, outreach manager at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and program coordinator for Maunakea Scholars.
The students worked with two graduate student mentors from the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, Anna Payne and Christian Flores Gonzalez. The mentors guided the students, taking their fledgling ideas and working with them to craft astronomical proposals. “The graduate student mentors from IFA are an essential part of this program. We learned early on that graduate students working with our high school students is an ideal mentorship for this program” said Doug Simons, director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.
The Waipahu High School Maunakea Scholars Award winners include:
- “The planet with Two Suns” by Laura Daclison. Laura was the first student awarded time on the W.M. Keck Observatory and will use the telescope to study Kepler 35b, a binary stellar system with a planet in a stable orbit.
- “LBV and Wolf Rayet Stars” by Jean Claude Dumaslan. JC will use the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope to study luminous blue variable stars and their relation to Wolf Rayet stars.
Laura and JC plan to work on their projects over the summer and present them next school year at the science fair. We are looking forward to seeing the results of their work.
Exceptional Molokai Students Received Telescope Time In the Inaugural Year.
March 16, 2017: For the first time ever, the Maunakea Observatories reached the students of Molokai in the biggest way possible, telescope time on the Maunakea Observatories. Executive director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), Doug Simons, Mary Beth Laychak, CFHT outreach manager, and UH Institute for Astronomy Maui astronomer JD Armstrong visited Molokai High School to award telescope time to three students.
“Our goal is to reach students on every island in Hawaii, which is why we were delighted when Molokai High School joined the program” said Laychak. “In their very first year the students submitted such strong proposals that our selection process was challenging.”
Mentored by JD Armstrong, the students spent months exploring cutting edge topics in astronomy before writing their proposals. Under his mentorship, they selected topics from black holes to cratering on the moon and the universe between. Three students were selected to receive observing time.
The Molokai Maunakea Scholars Award winners include:
- “Open Cluster HR Diagram” by Taye Mowat and Sunni Chow.Taye and Sunni will use the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope to determine the age of an open star cluster.
- “The Life Cycle of Sirius” by Skylar Kuahuia. Skylar will use Espadons at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope to study the life cycle of Sirius, one of the brightest stars in the sky.
These three students will work alongside Dr. Armstrong and the Maunakea Scholars team to conduct their research. We hope to see these students use their data to push the boundaries of what they think is possible.