Musician Sting and NSF Donate Solar Telescopes to Maui Schools

April 12, 2018, 9:25 AM HST · Updated April 12, 10:00 AM
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Rock musician Sting joins the National Science Foundation in donating portable solar telescopes to Maui schools participating in this week’s Solar Physics Teacher Workshop in support of STEM education.

JTTS telescopes. PC: National Solar Observatory

The effort, spearheaded by the National Solar Observatory endeavors to offer cutting-edge solar astronomy technology to long-standing astronomy techniques and observations practiced in Hawaiʻi.

Fourteen teachers from 10 different Maui county public schools will take part in the workshop.  Each public school represented at the April 14th workshop will receive a telescope to enable students to perform their own solar experiments and gather data and observations of the Sun in a safe manner.

The telescope donations are possible thanks to a gift from the musician Sting who narrated the National Geographic documentary called “The Dark Side of the Sun,” and was inspired with the work of the NSO.

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JTTS educational materials. PC: National Solar Observatory

“The NSO is building NSF’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, the world’s largest solar telescope, on Haleakalā,” says Dr. Valentin Martinez Pillet, Director of the National Solar Observatory. “All eyes of the world will turn toward Maui as a center of solar research. We hope to inspire the next generation of local students and scientists worldwide with the exciting, cutting-edge opportunities created by the new observatory.”

“Input from local educators and community leaders has been crucial to the creation of the new curriculum,” says Tishanna Ben, Education and Public Outreach Officer and Community Liaison for the NSO in Maui. “Their knowledge and insights are inspirational and we hope this becomes a model for future collaborations.”

Not only will the curriculum be available for attending educators, but lessons will be freely available to a wider audience via the NSO website. “The development of the curriculum was a critical component of this project,” Ben explained. “We were very fortunate to receive complementary resources from the National Science Foundation to supplement Sting’s gift. This allowed us to build a solid framework on which to support the educators’ and students’ knowledge of solar science, and provide each school with a ‘classroom kit’, complete with all of the materials needed for these lessons”.

“The sun is the closest star to the Earth, impacting everything from the food chain to the global climate,” said Dr. Ralph Gaume, Deputy Director for NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences. “This effort will not only engage students in solar science discovery, but also reinforce the role that the sun plays in life processes here on Earth, and the roles other stars may play throughout the universe.”

“NSO is excited to support the first of what we hope are many joint workshops to spur interest in the science, engineering and technical aspects of this exciting field,” Pillet said. “We look forward to the many future employees and scientists who will join us at the DKI Solar Telescope.”

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