For a decade, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy’s summer program has attracted middle school and high school students from across the state. It’s called Hawaiʻi Student/Teacher Astronomy Research or HI STAR.
“This program introduces students from across the state of Hawaiʻi to the basic practices of science,” said Geoff Mathews, UH Mānoa astronomy instructor. “Science is about exploring, going out and discovering new things, adding to humanity’s understanding of the universe.”
Over the past few years, HI STAR alumni have been awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships and awards at science fairs. The program, which recently marked its 10th year, is unique to the extent in which students design and direct their research projects.
Pahoa High School student James Iaukea said, “We got to learn about star clusters and galaxies and basic things like that and now we’re moving into more field-based studies, like I’m working on my exoplanets right now.”
UH Mānoa student mentor Marielle Dela Cruz, will be the first student to graduate from from the campus’ nascent astrophysics program in 2017. ”My (students’) project is globular clusters. They have the oldest stars in the universe,” she said.
According to organizers, HI STAR alumni are not only college and research ready, they are also becoming future leaders in the science, engineering and technology fields that are so important to Hawaiʻi and the nation.