Asronomy Outreach at Moiola Elementary

On March 21st, while in between jobs, I decided to drive down into Orange County to do an astronomy outreach in Fountain Valley. It was at Moiola Elementary School. See the short OCA report that I made here:

OCA web article

I had arrived well before sunset and was able to set up at leisure, with one hour to go before the show began. But setting up such large equipment in a school playground inevitably draws people out of curiosity.

So at this point in the story it breaks from Astronomy to things Japanese.

As I was setting up the equipment, a Shin-Issei Japanese woman approached me and she noticed the kanji  that I had wrtiiten on the rear cell of my telescope I explained to her that I was half Japense, or hapa. I told her where my father’s furusato (hometown) was, Gardena, and that I that I came from the same town that evening.  I then told her of my grandparents on my father’s side, their hometowns in Japan, etc.
This type of introduction is typical in Japanese culture. For some reason they place importance on ancestors and birth places. I recall having to go through the same thing when I applied to live in the apartment that I moved into here in Gardena. The manager wanted to know about my whole family tree on my father’s side, and I guess once she determined that I was not from  burakumin stock, she let me move in.

But I have digressed. The Japanese woman asked a few questions about astronomy, and then she had her young son come over to look at the telescope. Turned out her son was hapa, too. She had married into an American family. I then realized that it was not necessary for me to explain anything to her about hapa people. These type of marriages are very common these days. Japanese women with American men. Japanese American women with non-Japanese American men. It spawns more hapa offspring to the point that it very common.

Now back to the astronomy outreach. There were over 120 children and parents there, at least that is the number of people who lined up to look through my telescope. I put my telescope on Saturn, as I am still working for Jane Jones at JPL in the Saturn Observation Campaign.
I handed out the stock of my Cassini educational CD/ROMs to total depletion. I ran some Cassini related photos and animations on my notebook PC, and preached the gospel of JPL and the Cassini mission to Saturn all evening. By the time I had packed up all of my equipment after it was over, I was the last person in the schoolyard. It was 9:30 p.m. and I made the long trip back home to Gardena.

As I now live in Los Angeles county and work even farther away from Orange County in West L.A area, it is impossible for me to participate in the weekday OCA outreaches any more. This is why I made a plea in the last part of the club article.

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~ by matthewota on March 28, 2006.

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