As we hunker down in Waimea (aka Kamuela) on the island of Hawaii, I hope this finds you doing well. I recently heard from our friends and NASA@My Library partners at the Maunakea Observatories, who recently launched an online series of STEM videos for K-12 students and families. I wanted to share this resource with you and take a moment to acknowledge the wonderful support we’ve received from Maunakea Observatories.
Maunakea Observatories at Home (MKO@Home) features scientists, engineers, astronomers, and educators from the Maunakea Observatories sharing information in short, engaging sessions about a wide range of topics, including careers, the solar system, recent discoveries, arts and crafts, and more! New videos are released every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. One that might be of particular interest is the Pōwehi Day live panel discussion on Black Holes with “Spaceman Steve” and friends. Pōwehi is the first black hole ever to be photographed using the Event Horizon Telescope. If you have a minute, please check out the series and feel free to share with your community.
By way of background, Thelma Parker Memorial Public and School Library is one of 51 branches in the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS), and is the only library in Hawaii selected to participate in the NASA@My Library program. As such, we’re having fun sharing our experiences with the other libraries in our system.
Since our small town of about 10,000 people is in a rural and rather isolated area, we are extremely grateful for our partnership with the Maunakea Observatories, a collaboration of 12 nonprofit independent institutions with telescopes located on Maunakea. Two of the renowned members of this group—Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation and the W.M. Keck Observatory—are headquartered right here in Waimea.
From the beginning, the Maunakea Observatories have stepped up to support our NASA@My Library initiative, enthusiastically participating in our major NASA@My Library community events, including the annual Engineering Bash and Astrobash. In turn, we appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Maunakea Observatories’ annual Waimea Solar System Walk in October, staffing the “Neptune Booth” across the street from our library. The Maunakea Observatories also have expanded our network by introducing us to their colleagues and other on-island STEM resources, including the West Hawaii Astronomy Club and Nancy Tashima, NASA Solar System Ambassador/Master Teacher, NASA New Horizons Educator Fellow, and Onizuka Space Science Program Director.
Maunakea Observatories’ outreach staff, scientists, engineers, and astronomers generously volunteer their time to share their passion for science and their wealth of knowledge with our community. Whether they’re presenting Aunty Mimi’s Spectacular Science Show, or exploring the night sky in a mobile planetarium, making pocket solar systems and stellar spectroscopes, delving into mysterious black holes, getting hands-on with infrared cameras, demonstrating the operation of hydrostatic bearings using low pressure water, launching Alka Seltzer rockets, or building a spacesuit—the amazing people of Maunakea Observatories bring so much depth to our NASA@My Library initiative in such fun and inspiring ways, and we are grateful.
I cannot begin to describe how rewarding it’s been to open doors to STEM learning, to share resources with our colleagues, and to connect the young and young-at-heart at our library with experts who live and breathe science every day. Shortly after our Astrobash event last July, I had the pleasure of helping a nine-year-old boy and his family at our reference desk. The boy’s father said his son had been reading everything he could find about black holes after being inspired by the black hole activity presented at Astrobash by Carolyn Kaichi of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. In fact, the boy read ALL the black hole books in our library and his father asked me to request more black hole books from our other branches! Needless to say, that made my day…and Carolyn’s!
While our library doors remain closed for now, we look forward to literally opening our doors to the community again, and hosting our next Astrobash with the Maunakea Observatories. In the meantime, all our electronic resources are available for discovery, and our incredible NASA@My Library partners continue to inspire, share, and educate through MKO@Home.
Take care and stay healthy!