Based on the 4A's [aeronautics, astronomy, astronautics and atmospherology], the Aerospace Exploration Lab (AEL) provides Windward communities with high quality educational opportunities. The AEL includes a hands-on exploratorium, a lending library of resources and static displays. The AEL resources are available free of charge. To book a school visit or to make an appointment to borrow resources, contact the AEL staff or call 235-7321.
WCC's Aerospace Exploration Lab (AEL) serves public, private, parochial and home schools in Hawaii, particularly those located on the island of Oahu. While this science discovery center is utilized mostly by grades pre-K to 6, the AEL reaches a broad spectrum of the Hawaii community: from preschoolers to high school students to senior citizens -- from the Cub Scouts to the Civil Air Patrol to international visitors.
The AEL specializes in low-tech, hands-on activities. Visitors are encouraged to actively engage in learning through discovery and exploration. This tacile, haptic interaction with the environment fosters a "first-contact" learning experience that is missing from passive activities and the realm of virtual reality. And by keeping the activities at a low-tech level, teachers and parents can replicate many of the experiments in their classroom or at home. The Aerospace Exploration Lab's philosophy is based on an ancient Chinese proverb:
Our goal is to encourage students to journey to the horizon's edge--to look beyond at their exciting futures--and to make them fly. This vision is captured in the Aerospace Exploration Lab's motto:
As the only science resource center and hands-on museum on the Windward side, the Aerospace Exploration Lab provides the Windward area with convenient as well as high caliber educational opportunities for our community.
The Aerospace Exploration Lab, in tandem with Windward Community College's Imaginarium, is designed with our community's educational needs in mind--to make a difference in our children's future.
The Aerospace Exploration Lab officially opened to the public at Pu'ohala Elementary School (Room A-10) on Feb 27, 1989. In 1990 the AEL relocated to a temporary building on the Windward campus until its permanent home at the college's Hale 'Imiloa (Science Building) was finally opened in 1997.
Over the ensuing decades, the AEL has served some 500,000 visitors. Many of this early students have now grown up to bring their own children to AEL to explore, learn and enjoy -- among them, the CAE Director's own children and grandchildren.
Director's son Kapono (1989) Kapono's son Bira (2018)
In addition to its hands-on activities, static exhibits highlighting aviation and space science are displayed around the AEL -- from a variety of model aircraft and rockets to a collection of meteorites and planetary globes.
The static display themes run the gamut from science fiction (Star Wars) to science fact (NASA).
Millennium Falcon Mercury Friendship 7
(donated by Toys'R'Us Pearl Ridge) (lifesize model built by Roger Garrett)
Teachers may borrow any of the Aerospace Exploration Lab's lending library resources, free of charge.
Online Curricular Resources
An extensive collection of online education resources in aerospace science is available at:
Center for Aerospace Education's Online Curriculum
A CAE-produced electronic booklet on the art and science of Voyaging is available at
Voyagers: Risking the Dream
This multidisciplinary curriculum guide celebrates the human spirit of adventure--the driving force that has long propelled vessels across the oceans and now hurls ships through outer space.