Rising Voices Blog Two

Blog Two

(This is a continuation of my blog about Rising Voices. Click here to see the first blog entry in this series.)

Part One: Mauna Kea

“Let’s do something that is right for our mountain, and our people, and our mountain.”

Location: Pu’uhuluhul, base of the Mauna Kea Mountain, en route to Mauna Loa Observatory

We arrived at the base between two mountains: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. We met Aunty Pua Case, who shared the importance of Mauna Kea to the people of Hawai’i and led us through a cultural protocol to recognize the sacredness of the space. Similar to scientific protocols, it's important to recognize and follow cultural protocols

Click here to watch a video from Aunty Pua Case:




Part Two: Mauna Loa

At 3397 m (11,141 ft) on the Big Island of Hawaii in the United States, the Mauna Loa Observatory sits on the highest mountain next to an ocean in the world. (Click here to access the image below.)

When I stepped out of the van at 1:30 p.m., the sky was bright blue with white fluffy clouds hanging in the sky. Within about fifteen minutes, however, the clouds rolled in and covered nearly the entire sky. I live near the mountains in Boulder, Colorado, but standing on top of Mauna Loa looking down at the road we had just traveled, I noticed even more of a stark blue contrast to the tops of mountains where I live.

Since the 1950s, the Mauna Loa Observatory has collected atmospheric data, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. According to the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, the location of the Mauna Loa Observatory (in the Pacific Ocean and far from any continent, high up on top of the mountain) is an optimal location to collect quality atmospheric measurements: “The undisturbed air, remote location, and minimal influences of vegetation and human activity at MLO are ideal for monitoring constituents in the atmosphere that can cause climate change,” making it known as “ground zero of carbon dioxide measurements” and the birthplace of the Keeling Curve, which demonstrates the connection between carbon dioxide and temperature.

During the tour, we also got to see NCAR’s High Altitude Solar Observatory telescopes. It was so cool to see firsthand all of the good work NCAR's High Altitude Observatory is doing in action -- especially because their office is across the street from mine in Boulder, Colorado! (Like their HAO Facebook page here to keep updated on the 2017 solar eclipse!!)

GLOBE on Mauna Loa!

My final guide of the tour was with Forrest Mims. He was funny and engaging. At the end of the tour, I asked if he had ever heard of GLOBE and if I could share my GLOBE cloud chart with him to put up on the wall at the observatory.

Mr. Mims very excitedly told me about his past involvement with GLOBE. I was surprised to hear how extensive his GLOBE involvement was. In addition to being the most widely read electronics author in the world and having his leadership in science recognize him as one of the “50 Best Brains in Science” (Discover Magazine), Mr. Mims was the Co-Principal Investigator for a GLOBE project called “Atmospheric Haze and Column Water Vapor” from 1999 through 2006.

I was surprised to meet someone on top of the mountain that was so familiar with our GLOBE program! It was fascinating to hear the story about how Mr. Mims worked with Dr. David Brooks to develop, create, calibrate, and test sun photometers on top of the Mauna Loa Observatory, which led to the development of the GLOBE aerosols protocol!

In GLOBE, we have lots of conversations with our community about how STEM professionals actually DO science and engineering, such as using observation, testing hypothesis, developing solutions, etc. (especially with the Next Generation Science Standards!). It was awesome to hear Mr. Mims’ stories of his process developing new technologies to measure water vapor and ozone by using light from the sky (ultraviolet to measure ozone!) - it sounded like he had to test and retest many times over the years! (Want to connect with a GLOBE STEM Professional? Click here to find one near you!)

Want to experience the Mauna Loa Observatory firsthand? Check out James Balog’s documentary about Mauna Loa, from the Earth Vision Institute here:


Additional Resources for teaching and learning:

GLOBE Teachers:

●The GLOBE clouds and aerosols protocols

●You can do this Sky Photography Project with your students to foster learning about weather, climate, and the quality of your local environment.

GLOBE students:

●Access your own GLOBE cloud chart here (link)

●$ Challenge $: Apply for a $1,000 grant through Facilitating Environmental Science Inquiry and Research for Students and Educators, a project directed by David Brooks and the Earth Science Research and Education (IESRE), the Toyota USA Foundation, and YLACES. Sample projects may include: develop an Android App to determine sky color! For more information about the FESIRSE project, please contact David Brooks at

●Want to see GLOBE aerosols data to see what Mr. Mim's work contributed to? Check GLOBE's visualization system out here:



Read more about my experience here -- Blog 1: Collaborative Science and Blog 3: Phenology.

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