(BIVN) – A final ceremony for this year’s Maunakea Scholars program was held at Kealakehe High School, where 15 juniors received telescope time this year after submitting winning proposals.
From the Maunakea Observatories:
The Maunakea Scholars program wrapped up the 2022-2023 school year with the final awards ceremony of the year at Kealakehe High School. The Mauankea Scholars program provides telescope time for Hawaiʻi Public High School students using the Maunakea Observatories for their own independent research projects.
“Across the board, this year’s Maunakea Scholars students submitted professional level proposals,” said Mary Beth Laychak, director of communications and community engagement at the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope and Maunakea Scholars director. “Students want to explore our solar system, study the atmosphere of exoplanets, and uncover the mysteries of neutron stars and pulsars. The questions students are asking are just incredible and get more sophisticated every year.”
Fifteen Kealakehe juniors received telescope time this year on projects ranging from the solar system to distant star forming regions:
“Observing the Composition and Formation of Dunes in Relation to the Atmospheric Properties of Titan and Pluto”; Maile-Lei Ji, Mei Kanada, Kayla Robertson
“Observing CPD-29 2176, a Kilonova Progenitor System, to Constrain the Future Evolution of the System”; Malina Chiddo
“GW Orionis”; Keoni Roth, Jaylea Barker, Luke Thorp
“The Money Head Nebula”; Nutnicha Go, Clair Masquida, Marissa Boerner
“Predicting Supernova Utilizing Information from the Eta Carina Nebula alongside the Wings of a Butterfly Nebula”; Eric Gee, Emily Yessis
“I was so excited to hear Emily and my names called,” said Eric Gee, one of the students receiving observing time. “I thought it might be possible, but I was still shocked when our names were announced. It’s a such great opportunity.”
Students will receive their data over the summer and into the early fall. Many of the students anticipate submitting their projects to the district science fair next fall. Three Kealakehe students receiving telescope time last school year advanced to the state science fair, with one placing second in the astronomy and physics division.
Students from five public high schools statewide including Kapolei, Kalani, Waipahu, Waiakea, and Kealakehe participated in the Maunakea Scholars Program. 47 students received telescope time at the Maunakea Observatories, with an additional 10 students receiving honorable mentions.
Under the guidance of IfA graduate students and professional astronomers, student projects ranged from studying the sun, planets within our solar system, nebulas, galaxies, and black holes. Earlier this year, two MKS projects from the current 2022-23 cohort placed at the top of the Astronomy and Physics categories at Hawaii’s State Science Fair, with one advancing to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
Five former MKS students have also been accepted into the Akamai Internship program, led at the University of California Observatories, in partnership with University of Hawaiʻi.
“I am exceptionally proud of the Maunakea Scholars students and alum. One of the program’s alumni graduated with his degree in astronomy from the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa earlier this month,” said Laychak. “He was the first astronomy graduate, with many other alumni embarking on careers in education, engineering, and economics. I can’t wait to see what these students do moving forward.”