Talk about aiming high: This Big Island teacher wants to install an observatory on campus

‘This telescope is an opportunity for them to be exposed to something beyond Hookena.’

Talk about aiming high: This Big Island teacher wants to install an observatory on campus

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At Hookena Elementary School on the Big Island, third-grade teacher Leimamo Lind-Strauss cares for a classroom of star-struck students.

These days they are fascinated with outer space.

"They're drawing rocket ships. They're drawing planets. They're drawing the sun," Lind-Strauss said.

The buzz on campus surrounds the prospect for the tiny school in Captain Cook to get a telescope.

Lind-Strauss wants to install an observatory.

"This telescope is an opportunity for them to be exposed to something beyond Hookena, and to think about what they could do and where they could be," she said.

Lind-Strauss submitted her idea as a proposal to Farmers Insurance Thank America's Teachers Dream Big Teacher Challenge.

It reached the final round and is in the running for a $100,000 grant.

"It will pay for basically construction and for electrical, anything that we have to upgrade," Hookena principal Nancy Jadallah said.

A farmer in the community donated a 12-inch Meade telescope and the dome that houses it.

Now all it needs is a home.

"Once you bring in that little dome and that telescope the kids are exposed to not only the science but the engineering, the math, the computers," said Mary Beth Laychak of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Hookena would create family nights so the surrounding community could also stargaze.

“It’s also an opportunity for other schools — Honaunau which is down the road and Kona Waena which is further down the road — to have access to what we’ll have here that they would otherwise not have,” Lind-Strauss said.

Fifteen proposals from teachers across the United States made it to Farmers' final round.

Lind-Strauss’s proposal would need to finish in the top five to get the $100,000 award.

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