Camp ‘Imi-Possible was in full swing when Subaru Telescope Director Nobuo Arimoto visited ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center to view first-hand the children participating in the week-long intersession program, which was supported by a gift from the Japan Foundation for the Promotion of Astronomy (JFPA). The $9,750 donation, presented on behalf of the JFPA by Subaru Telescope, covers all materials, tuition scholarships, and support teachers for the winter (December 17-21, 2012) and spring (March 18-22, 2012) camps.
Oriented toward "junior explorers and innovators in grades K-3", the camps are meant to provide engaging, hands-on educational activities tailored to the inquisitive minds of young children. ‘Imiloa's Executive Director Ka‘iu Kimura summed up the overall intent of the camps: "We want kids to engage and have fun—to imagine and explore the possibilities in the sciences for understanding the earth, the oceans, the skies, and deep space."
The winter camp focuses on the sustainability of the earth and its resources, exploring answers to the question, "How does the use of traditional and contemporary ways of knowing help one make sustainable choices?" The spring camp will delve into questions in cosmology, astronomy, and space science by concentrating on the question, "How does exploring the cosmos and our origins strengthen our understanding of the relationship between nature and humans?"
The excited voices and energetic behavior of the young students communicated their enthusiasm for the activities designed by their teachers. During a tour of the classroom and other educational sites outdoors, the participants were eager to show Director Arimoto some of their projects. The teachers explained some of their techniques for stimulating interest in science and pointed out use of the equipment and materials that JFPA funded.
For the past twelve years, Subaru Telescope, on behalf of JPFA, has donated over $107,000 to the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UH Hilo) for initiatives that foster education about astronomy in the local community. The annual gifts have supported a variety of interesting and worthwhile activities—from an exhibit of the history of the telescope and the development of a children's planetarium show at ‘Imiloa to funding the Subaru Success Scholarship in physics/astronomy and purchasing equipment for classroom and community outreach at UH Hilo.
Parents and children alike testify to the success of the winter camp in encouraging interest in scientific inquiry. One parent exclaimed, "It's so awesome! Our son comes home every day talking about his day at ‘Imiloa. He always starts off with, "Did you know?" and then explains all that he learned that day." Another parent said, "This week was stellar". After she received her certificate for completion of the winter camp, a young girl enthused, "I'm going exploring." The testimonials indicate that the spring camp in March promises to be as satisfying and stimulating as the winter one.