President Obama draws attention to Hawaii telescopes, Hokulea - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

President Obama draws attention to Hawaii telescopes, Hokulea

Image courtesy: The White House via YouTube Image courtesy: The White House via YouTube
Telescopes on Mauna Kea (File Photo) Telescopes on Mauna Kea (File Photo)
Hokulea (Image courtesy: PVS) Hokulea (Image courtesy: PVS)
WASHINGTON D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) -

President Barack Obama on Monday announced a new program that will help people in Hawaii get excited about science, technology, engineering and math through free guided tours of eight telescopes on the Big Island.

During Astronomy Night, Obama announced the “Educate to Innovate” campaign that would inspire and prepare students, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, to excel in STEM fields. As part of it, Obama said Hawaii residents – 16 years and older – will get free guided tours of the W.M. Keck Observatory, Gemini Observatory, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Subaru Telescope, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, Harvard-Smithsonian Center Submillimeter Array and the Thirty Meter Telescope.

“They didn't do that when I was in high school,” said Obama, who went to Punahou School in Manoa. “I wish they had thought of that earlier.”

The new program, which will start as early as November 2015, will include free transportation to and from the summit, a guided tour to at least one of the observatories and a chance to meet world-class astronomers.

The tour is the first deal of its kind in the 50-year history of telescopes on Mauna Kea.

Hawaii was also represented at Astronomy Night with some of the Hokulea crew, including apprentice navigator Jenna Ishii, who attended and posed for a picture on the South Lawn of the White House.

On Friday, Obama touted the mission of the worldwide voyage through a tweet.

After waiting out a big storm off Mozambique, the Hokulea finally arrived at Port Richards, South Africa early this week. The crew will now sail around the Cape of Good Hope, one of the most dangerous routes in the world.

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