Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy hosted its annual in-person summer program this year for middle and high school students on Valley Island. .
From May 30 to June 3, for the Hawaii Student/Teacher Astronomy Research, or HI STAR, program, nine students worked under the supervision of UH astronomers and graduate students on projects ranging from asteroids to black holes on the campus of UH Maui College.
This is the first time in two years that HI STAR has held the program in person. During the pandemic, students were mentored virtually over Zoom.
“The goal is to give students real-world experiences in empirical research in astronomy”, said JD Armstrong, HI STAR program director, in a press release. “At the end of their week of learning and collaborating with their teammates, students should deliver their findings in a symposium-style presentation for friends, family, and peers.”
During the program, students developed skills in scientific analysis and learned communication and presentation skills, according to a press release.
Since the program’s inception in 2007, approximately 75% of HI STAR students have participated in the regional science fair and won national and international awards.
Many were also offered scholarships to prestigious universities and some co-authored peer-reviewed scientific papers while still in high school.
Giullia Porter, a student at King Kekaulike High School, is interested in stellar seismology or earthquakes on stars. The 17-year-old, who aspires to get into mechanical engineering, said she was grateful for the one-on-one guidance she received from astronomers during the program.
“I remember the first time I put my glasses on and looked up at the sky, I was like, ‘Wow, okay, there are a lot of stars, that’s really cool'”. Porter said. “And since then it’s always been interesting to me, but it got more fascinating once I could really see the magnitude of it.”