The pilots and support crew for the Solar Impulse are back in Hawaii preparing for the continuation of their around-the-world flight, a flight made purely on solar energy. Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard looked refreshed and ready for second half of their trans-Pacific flight. Last year in July, they flew a marathon 118 hours non-stop from Nagoya, Japan to Honolulu. On that trip the batteries were pushed to their operational limits and overheated. As a result the Solar Impulse team had to reassess how they would proceed: re-engineer the battery insulation and risk the delay and changing weather or postpone the mission until 2016. The decision was obvious. Andre Borschberg told me that the batteries themselves were okay, it was the insulation that prevented them from cooling. As a result the team re-engineered the insulation housing in January. The green tubing in the photo is part of the cooling system necessary while on the ground. After landing, if the batteries aren't cooled the batteries run the risk of damage. The weather pattern will determine the next leg of the flight. During their time in Asia, the team learned that having multiple airport options can make or break a flight plan. Recall, Solar Impulse was supposed to fly from Nanjing, China to Honolulu but instead detoured to Nagoya, Japan. As of this writing, there are four possible West Coast options, Vancouver, British Columbia, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Phoenix, Arizona. There will be two stops in the U.S., one in the central U.S. and one in New York. The plane then continues to Europe and ending its around-the-world flight in Abu Dhabi. There will be two public viewings here in Honolulu. One on March 26 and April 2, 2016. Viewing times are from 10am to 4pm. Consult the Solar Impulse website for details. You can find more photos from today's viewing here. The Si2 is parked in the University of Hawaii hanger at Kalaeloa Airport. The planned departure is on April 15, 2016. In the meantime the crew continues with preparations, taking the plane out for test flights. Earlier this week test pilots (not Andre or Bertrand) flew the plane for 16 hours. We're all excited about this next leg of their journey. Hawaii benefits twice for having the Solar Impulse land here and then eight months later begin its journey from here. Solar Impulse and its theme of #FutureisClean brings attention to Hawaii's clean energy goals which are the most aggressive in the country. Very serendipitous!
Back in March 2013 the team of eight Girl Scouts of Hawaii sent a Microlab consisting of a self contain vessel with 8 arugula seeds, potting soil, lighting, water, camera and timing electronics to the International Space Station (ISS). The Microlab was sent to the ISS onboard the Space X Falcon 9 rocket on a supply delivery. After 30 day aboard the ISS and making the land journey back to Hawaii, the team took apart their Microlab to see if they were successful at germinating the arugula seeds. Of the eight seeds one did sprout a root about .5 inches long. Several of the seeds did not germinate but with the one, it was considered a success. The design of the Microlab consisted of a light source and water dispenser controlled by a timed valve. The water sack needed to be under constant pressure in order to dispense properly. The team devised a pressure system using rubber bands. I was impressed with their ingenuity and attention to space and costs. I told them this was right from MacGyver and they all looked at me with the question, Who's MacGyver? The team spent the better part of 6 months preparing for the launch. All from Hawaii high schools, the girls came from Iolani, Mililani, Nanakuli, Punahou and Sacred Hearts Academy. They designed the experiment, tested various seed options, constructed the seed container and programmed electronics for environmental control. Gail Hannemann, Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii, considered this such a great learning experience she plans to enter another team on the next "Design It, Build It, Launch It" mission to the ISS.
The Hokule`a and companion ship Hikianalia set sail on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 on the World Wide Voyage which will take 4 years and go around the world. The pair of canoes will travel a total of 47,000 miles, visit 26 countries and enter 85 ports. On their first leg of the journey and for the next 12 months, both vessels will travel around Hawaii. The vision for the World Wide Voyage is to Malama Honua, or Care for the Earth. The crew and vessel will carry this message on their journey, "to become a catalyst for positive change in Hawaii by constantly learning from and nurturing relationships worldwide that share the values of and responsibility for, caring for island Earth, her oceans and children, while honoring our heritage and perpetuating our culture. " Although we may not be on the canoes master navigator Nainoa Thompson talked about us (the public) as being the "third canoe" able to share in the World Wide Voyage. The Hikianalia is equipped with all the technology to transmit ship to ship via wifi and from ship to shore with 4g. Further out, beyond the reach of land based communications, the vessels will communicate via satellite. The primary sites to stay in contact with Hokule`a and Hikianalia are:
The Windward Community College Team Hawaii did a test launch of their rocket today at Kaneohe Marine Corp Base. Although fairly gusty the rocket launch and landing was picture perfect. Both nose cone and rocket fuselage touched down on land and did not drift into Kaneohe Bay. You can find more photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bytemarks/sets/72157629565620253/
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At the conclusion of this past week's Stanford Univ. Design Thinking Bootcamp at the Sheraton Waikiki, the energy and excitement was palpable. People felt they not only had a tool they would take back to their organizations but there was a groundswell of support that they could tap. The Design Thinking initiative in Hawaii started in September 2010 when Oceanit brought Larry Shubert from Zip Innovations here for a one day workshop. Larry was formerly a principal with IDEO and leveraged the concepts that came out of there and the Stanford d.school. After all, they are related through David Kelley who is the founder of IDEO and head of the d.school. The September workshop was energizing and it would have been disappointing had that initial momentum been lost over time. In parallel but on a somewhat different track the University of Hawaii created the Innovation Council and held a Symposium on Innovation in January 2011. At the conclusion of the Symposium the Council submitted their recommendations on innovation. They included:
- Identify Research as an Industry in Hawaii
- Establish HiTEx (Hawaii Innovation Technology Exchange)
- Identify Key Areas for Commercialization Opportunities
- Integrate Entrepreneurship into the Curriculum
The University of Hawaii (UH) and the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the two organization's collaborative efforts to improve and solve sustainability and resiliency issues in the Asia Pacific region. The three signatories of the MOU were UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, Adm. Robert F. Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command and UH Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw. Both Admiral Willard and President Greenwood admitted when the group first got together in January 2011, both organizations were apprehensive about how this relationship would take shape, if at all. Historically the relationship between the University of Hawaii and the U.S. military has seen it's ups and downs. President Greenwood said, "We are the two most influential and powerful institutions in the State of Hawaii, and yet we have not found the ways and connections to work together." But as a result of the conference in January, the two groups were able to craft a framework for an ongoing partnership. Colleagues commented later to Greenwood that this should have been done a long time ago. The MOU identified three key area for immediate focus: Energy, Water and Disaster Management. Some of near term partnering areas include:
- Examine implementing alternative energy sources for PACOM installations and on certain humanitarian assistance projects;
- Leverage UH capability and training to complement and support PACOM roles in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief work around the region;
- Build on UH and PACOM capabilities in a variety of water projects, particularly leveraging interests in the lower Mekong;
- Define partnership projects in some aspect of ocean fisheries and maritime security.
The Hawai‘i Science Olympiad is one of those programs that involves a lot of students, teachers and supporters, fosters a great learning environment and promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. But inspite of this the program gets very little media attention. I'd equate this program to the Science Fair or Robotics competitions but relatively new to the Hawaii scene. The Science Olympiad started in 2005 as compared to the Science Fair which is going on its 54th year. Nevertheless, the Science Olympiad has as much energy and conviction as any program that is determined to make a difference in Hawaii's students. This year's Hawaii State final took place on March 5th on the campus of Leeward Community College. As its name implies, the Science Olympiad is an olympics-styled competition but rather than physical activities student teams compete in topics like astronomy, optics, geology, biology, etc. Although most of the competitions are closed to public viewing (to minimize participant distraction) there are several like the bottle rocket launch where the public is welcomed. In this exercise, plastic soda bottles are used to design a rocket that gets pumped with 75 lbs of air pressure and launched into the air. The competitive measure was how long the rocket stayed in the air. Students could use basic materials to design fins and a cone as well as the right water to air mixture for propellent. Two other publicly viewable competitions included the mousetrap vehicle and tower building, each intense in its own way. This year's competition drew 48 teams, up from 23 last year. Teams came from all over the state, both public and private schools. Congratulations go out to Iolani School and Maui Preparatory Academy who placed first in the the high school and middle school divisions, respectively. Both teams will represent Hawai‘i at the National Science Olympiad Tournament at the University of Wisconsin in May. Franklin Allaire is the tireless director of this program and along with him is an army of coaches, judges, mentors and volunteers that make this program the success that it is. This group of people deserve a big round of thanks for encouraging a new generation of kids to explore and discover the limitless world of science and technology.
The 6th Annual Hawaii FIRST LEGO League Championships were held on Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena. The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) introduces younger students to real world engineering challenges by building LEGO based robots that complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. This year's theme was medical related with challenges simulating a rapid blood screening, artery stent, cardiac missions, brain missions, bionic eyes, etc. Teams must design, build, test and program an autonomous robot to accomplish the Challenge Mission on the playing field. The game is based on a point system and each team has three qualifying rounds. Each round is 2:30 minutes long. In the video students from Pauoa Elementary School program their robot to perform predefined tasks. Once activated the robot is autonomous, functioning without remote controls. Each team is allowed only two members at the playing field at a time although they can switch out by tagging one of their members. Aaron Dengler, science teacher at Punahou School told me that FLL is less about robotics and more about engineering and team work. Each of the robot kits include a controller, sensors, mechanics and power. Bringing it all together is an engineering task. In addition to the design, testing and performance, each team has to research the theme and do a presentation to a panel of judges. Months of planning and activities lead up to the FLL Championship. I was quite impressed with the enthusiasm each of these young teams demonstrated and felt reassured that this program is an excellent feeder into futures in science and technology.
This story ran in the Star Advertiser on Friday and given my fascination with ships and planes I had to see if the Kaiyu Maru was still docked at Aloha Tower. On my morning run I detoured to Aloha Tower Marketplace and sure enough it was still there. My plan was to try and get a tour of the ship but that did not pan out. Trying to board a foreign ship at the last minute, literally hours before they leave is futile. But I did get to meet the Roosevelt High School students, Krista Ann Lee and Ronald Li along with their teacher Jennifer Williams as they made their last minute foray into town to buy a case of diet Coke. The threesome are on their way to Fukuoka, a 17 day trip on the training vessel Kaiyu Maru. They, along with 60 other Japan students will journey the western Pacific on the 223 foot vessel. Judging from their blog post, the first day at sea was a struggle with seasickness. It will be interesting to follow along with their adventure on the high sea. Stay tuned as I have asked Jennifer and her students to join us on Bytemarks Cafe on Dec 15th to share with us their once in a lifetime experience.
Just last week Windward Community College reopened their Hōkūlani Imaginarium, now fully equipped with a new Definiti 4K projection system from Sky-Skan. The Definiti 4K provides high-resolution color imagery on a giant dome screen. Two projectors illuminate the dome screen giving it a 3D effect without the glasses. It is quite an enhancement compared to the previous system that projected points and line drawings. Joe Ciotti is the master of ceremonies for each of the showings. He adds a key dimension you won't find in other traditional theaters. He is there as a greeter, mood setter and subject matter expert. He warmed up the opening night viewing of Tales of the Maya Skies with a demonstration of the new features of the Definiti 4 system. He flashed a 3D rendering of the Space Shuttle and then showed how, through the marvel of 3D modeling, you can venture into the bone structure of the human skull. It is easy to imagine worlds of the extremely small to those of galactic proportions opening up for viewing. Opening with Tales of the Maya Skies introduced the audience to the capabilities of the system and the intricacies of putting a show like this together. In addition to a program rich in culture, images included animations of Mayan characters, 3D renderings of Maya structures and a story woven in science and legend. Tales of the Maya Skies is a Chabot Space & Science Center production with major funding provided by the National Science Foundation. Judging from the Sky-Skan catalog of shows, there are a lot of interesting programs to look forward to. Titles like Solar Storms, Awesome Light and Black Holes: Journey into the Unknown need little fanfare to attract my attention. Awesome Light includes an entire episode from the telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea:For tickets reservations and more information about the show, call Windward Community Collage at 808-235-7433.
Voyage into Subaru, Gemini, Keck, and Canada-France-Hawai‘i observatories to explore an exo-planet, supernova, and stars orbiting at the centre of the Milky Way and galactic survey.Exo-planets, sign me up! Viewings of Tales of the Maya Skies continue through January 2011:
- Friday, November 12, 7 p.m. & 8 p.m.
- Friday, December 10, 7 p.m.
- Friday, January 14, 7 p.m.