Prior to COVID, Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day was an annual FREE and fun-filled day of science and space exploration. Held each January at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, the event was comprised of hands-on STEM workshops, a guest lecture by a NASA astronaut, and interactive displays. Students in grades 3-12, parents, and teachers of any grade level were welcome.
Students preregistered and choose two unique sessions from a list of 20+ workshops. The day started off with exciting displays where students interacted with scientists passionate about their fields of study. The morning keynote speaker was a real astronaut, who later signed autographed photos. Students were provided a free bento lunch between morning and afternoon sessions.
Zonta Club of Hilo supported this annual event by registering and greeting participants as they arrived and providing support to presenters in the classroom sessions.
Ellison Onizuka, Astronaut
Born and raised in Kealakekua, Kona, Hawai`i, Ellison Onizuka graduated from Konawaena High School in 1964 and from the University of Colorado with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. Receiving a commission in the United States Air Force through ROTC, he was an aerospace flight test engineer at McClellan Air Force Base, and at the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, while logging more than 1,700 hours flying time. Selected as an astronaut candidate in January 1978, he first flew as a mission specialist on STS 51-C, the first Space Shuttle Department of Defense mission, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 25, 1985. STS-51-C Discovery completed 48 orbits of the Earth with Ellison logging a total of 74 hours in space. Lieutenant Colonel Onizuka was a mission specialist on STS51-L, Challenger, which was launched from Kennedy Space Center at 11:38 EST on January 28, 1986. The STS 51-L crew died on January 28, 1986 when Challenger exploded 1 minute 13 seconds after launch.
“Every generation has the obligation to free men’s [women’s & girls!] minds for a look at new worlds… to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.” ~ Ellison Onizuka, Astronaut