Part of the Maunakea Observatories mission is to share their findings with Big Island students and the public. And sometimes, starting that conversation can be as easy as hitting a coin.
The Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee, in conjunction with the annual AstroDay events and activities, is again seeking designs for a coin featuring Maunakea. The Maunakea Coin Contest runs through March 21, and Big Island students from K-12, including those homeschooled, are encouraged to get creative and enter as many times as they want. wish.
“We’re looking for designs that represent Maunakea and all aspects of the mountain,” said Nadine Manset, one of the contest organizers, who is also resident astronomer and head of queuing observing services in Canada. , France, Hawai’i Telescope.
Past designs have featured culturally significant plants and animals, such as the kalo and honu; constellations; the moon; and the observatories themselves, sometimes drawn with traditional kapa designs. Manset said judges are amazed each year by the new ideas drawn and submitted by students for the contest.
“Student creativity seems endless!” she told Big Island Now in an email.
To enter the competition, students must draw a design on the official drawing sheet, available on the web. The design must be drawn in black ink, must depict Maunakea, and must include elements of culture, astronomy, and nature found on or around the mauna.
The design should also be suitable for making a coin that will have a final size of 1.5 inches in diameter.
First, second and third place winners will be selected in three categories: K-4, 5-8 and 9-12. Each of these winners will receive a KTA gift certificate, a medal and certificate, a 2022 bronze coin and a selection of prizes such as pens, magnets, pins, hats, stickers and postcards.
From these nine winners, three overall winners will be selected. These top three will also receive an Imiloa Astronomy Center award, Galaxy Garden award, additional KTA gift certificate, Hawaiian Starlight DVD, plaque and certificate.
The top winner will have their design selected to feature on the 2022 coin.
The number of submissions has varied over the years from a few hundred to nearly a thousand, according to Manset.
The contest is sponsored by KTA Super Stores, Maunakea Astronomy Outreach Committee, Maunakea Observatories, University of Hawai’i Institute of Astronomy, Imiloa Astronomy Center, Galaxy Garden and d other partners, including the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems and the Maunakea Tourist Information Station.
Manset said a few hundred coins are minted each year in a bronze version, which is available for sale. About 3,000 aluminum coins are minted and distributed free of charge.
“Coins are used when astronomers and astronomy educators visit classrooms, at science or craft fairs, at stargazing events, or any outreach activity related to science, technology or to astronomy,” she said.
The contest started in 2011 and has a long partnership with AstroDay.
Manset said that when AstroDay is held in person in May in Hilo, the Maunakea Coin Contest awards ceremony takes place that morning. AstroDay attendees can also collect stamps at booths set up in Prince Kuhio Square and receive an aluminum coin when presenting their completed passport.
If AstroDay activities are conducted in a virtual format or with social distancing guidelines, contest winners are announced online.
“The coin contest is a fun activity that allows students to research different aspects of Maunakea and then express through art how they view the mountain,” Manset said. “The competition was created to allow students to reflect on the significance of Maunakea, a truly unique and majestic mountain. The environment features flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet. The mountain holds an important place in the local culture and is also the best astronomy site in the world.
The play and contest also help spark conversations about astronomy, which is exactly what Maunakea Observatories wants to share with anyone willing to listen.
“The piece allows us to talk about the mountain, its importance to astronomers, the observatories that survey the sky from its summit area, and the discoveries made year after year,” Manset said.
For more information or to submit a design for the 2022 Maunakea Coin Contest, click here. For more information on this year’s AstroDay, click here.