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A&S Dean delivers keynote at K-12 Education Conference


Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences and professor of astronomy, drew upon multiple disciplines and his own far-flung explorations to educate and inspire approximately 1,000 K-12 teachers at the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) Summer Series conference.

Held virtually July 13-24, the online conference featured several guest speakers, including former NASA astronauts Bernard Harris and Mike Massimino; actress (“The Wonder Years”) and science writer Danica McKellar; and scientist and entrepreneur Calvin Mackie.

Jayawardhana said the goal of his keynote, delivered July 17, was to show the teachers how the at-times esoteric subject matter of astronomy “is not only relevant but integral to our lives.” To do so, he expanded on the central themes of his new children’s book, “Child of the Universe,” which highlights humanity’s intimate connections with the universe and encourages kids to imagine their own place in it as one of grand possibility and adventure.

Jayawardhana shared his personal experiences and photos – of a solar eclipse chase in Mongolia, a meteorite collecting expedition in Antarctica and aurora sightings in the Arctic. He also drew upon examples in history, such as the Carrington event of 1859, which remains the strongest solar storm on record, producing three days of intense aurorae and affecting telegraph lines worldwide.

Read more on Cornell Chronicle.