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AstroDay coming to Kona Commons

Updated: 
November 1, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — For 16 years, the Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee has hosted an annual science and astronomy education event known as AstroDay in Hilo.

For the first time this year, the committee will host a second event, this time in Kona.

“We always wanted to reach as much of the island as we can,” said Carolyn Kaichi, education and outreach coordinator for the Institute of Astronomy. “We do so much educational outreach in Hilo and North Hawaii and we feel it’s a disservice by not bringing that outreach to West Hawaii.”

Kaichi said the primary issue with getting AstroDay to Kona was the cost of a venue to hold the event. This year, they were asked by officials at Kona Commons to bring it to the leeward side.

Kaichi is excited about the venue and response of those participating has been good. However, this is a trial year and the committee hopes they can continue to find venues on the west side in years to come.

Part of the committee’s goal with the event is to bring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to the youth in the community.

“We’re doing our part to bring STEM to young people so they’re not as intimidated to go into those fields,” Kaichi said.

The event provides an opportunity to meet the science community at the observatories.

“We feel that astronomy is a viable economy here,” Kaichi said. “The jobs we offer here are not just science jobs but support jobs. Jobs like that are available to young people.”

AstroDay also allows astronomers to interact with the community. Getting them in touch with community is part of what the committee does for outreach.

“What we do — our sciences are relevant to the entire island and the entire state,” Kaichi said.

AstroDay is free. Kaichi said those who come can expect a hands-on interaction experience. Highlights include a portable planetarium, solar viewing with experienced astronomers, robotic demos and educational games and toys.

AstroDay will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the former Sports Authority space in Kona Commons, 74-5450 Makala Blvd.

“We are excited to bring this fun and educational event for the keiki and families to Kona,” said Nancy Sakamoto, general manager of Kona Commons. “Kona Commons is proud to host the scientists and educators that are volunteering their time for this wonderful program.”

Kaichi said Kona Commons is a great venue and they’re hoping the community will come out and support them.

“People in Hilo come to expect it in the spring and they’re always well attended,” she said. “We hope to start that tradition in Kona.”

For more information on the event, visit www.mkaoc.org.

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