An Eye on the Next Generation
Since 2005 the W. M. Keck Observatory has participated in the Akamai Observatory Internship Program, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO). The Akamai education program is designed to rigorously prepare Hawai’i undergraduate students for future Observatory careers through a summer program that includes an intensive academic short course, inquiry-based activities and workplace internships with the observatories on Mauna Kea. To date Keck Observatory has sponsored 17 students in the Akamai program and has also participated in the CfAO’s Professional Development Program (PDP), an initiative to improve science and technology teaching methods and delivery. The 2008 CfAO PDP offered a workshop which took place this past spring on Maui and some of the participants took what they learned right into practice for the summer 2008 Akamai academic short course.
Emily Rice, a graduate student in astronomy at the University of California at Los Angeles, summed up her CfAO experiences by saying, “The CfAO professional development program is an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the latest research in cognitive science and learning theory and apply it to developing curriculum and practicing facilitation techniques. It is wonderful to meet other scientists and engineers who are passionate about learning, teaching, and promoting a fair and diverse academic community. The Akamai program is my favorite to work with because it also helps me share my passion for astronomy and communicate to students and the community the importance of the observatories in Hawai’i. It sends the message that people with a variety of backgrounds can make important contributions to a successful observatory and that a successful observatory can have a positive impact on the community.”