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Expanding Access and Inspiring Future Scientists

by Brea Aamoth on December 23rd, 2015

Japan Foundation for Promotion of Astronomy Awards Grant to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

Hawaiʻi Island schoolchildren will enjoy greater access to educational experiences at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in 2016, thanks to the generosity of the Japan Foundation for Promotion of Astronomy (JFPA) through Subaru Telescope. Earlier this month, the foundation awarded a grant of ¥800,000 ($7,200) to ‘Imiloa for its school field trip program, with the funds designated to help support roundtrip transportation costs for schools outside Hilo.

During the 2014-2015 school year, ‘Imiloa hosted a total of 11,290 students and teachers/chaperones on 266 different curriculum-related field trips…the equivalent of more than one on-site field trip each weekday ‘Imiloa was open. The majority of the visiting groups—53%—were elementary school students, with 16% from intermediate school and 21% from high school. Slightly over half of all student visitors came from schools here on Hawaiʻi Island, with the remainder traveling to Hilo from Oʻahu, the neighbor islands, the U.S. mainland, and overseas.

‘Imiloa Executive Director Kaʻiu Kimura comments, “We feel a very special responsibility to ensure broad access to our programming for local students and schools here on Hawaiʻi Island. This generous grant from the Japan Foundation for Promotion of Astronomy will be of tremendous assistance in meeting our goal of continuing to subsidize roundtrip bus transportation for all eligible Hawaiʻi Island classes. We are very grateful to the JFPA and Subaru Telescope for this vote of confidence in our programming.”

‘Imiloa’s signature field trips are customized in consultation with the organizing teacher to meet the needs of the grade level and include content that directly supported the curriculum unit which the students were studying. Each class is offered a choice of shows in ‘Imiloa’s fulldome 3-D digital planetarium, along with hands-on experiences in its interactive exhibit hall and native gardens. At the end of the two-hour field trip, students receive curriculum worksheets to take back and complete in class.

Typical of many comments is one from a Hilo-area teacher who organized a field trip for her class in 2015: “Many of our students receive free/reduced lunch, and finances are a struggle. So, for them to go to ‘Imiloa is such a luxury!” Another added, ““It is very difficult nowadays to get field trips approved and they must be highly linked to academic standards, so we are thankful that we can add ‘Imiloa to our list.”

Over the past 15 years, the Japan Foundation for Promotion of Astronomy through Subaru Telescope has made over $132,000 in grants to UH Hilo to support initiatives that foster education about astronomy in the local community. These have included the creation of exhibits and planetarium shows at ‘Imiloa, the construction of a traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe, and scholarships for students participating in Camp ‘IMI-Possible.

To support field trips for local students, call ‘Imiloa at 808-932-8921 or make a gift online at Imiloa Field Trip. To learn how to arrange a field trip, to ‘Imiloa, please visit school-field-trips.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to, or call (808) 969-9703.


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