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Maunakea Scholars & Mānoa Academy Prep Hawaiʻi’s Aspiring Astronomers

January 9, 2019, 10:50 AM HST (Updated January 9, 2019, 10:57 AM)
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Hawaii Island Maunakea Scholars from Waiakea and Honoka‘a High Schools have the opportunity to earn dual credit at the University of Hawai‘i this semester. PC: Maunakea Observatories, Jan. 2019

Hawai‘i Island’s Maunakea Observatories’ signature educational program, Maunakea Scholars, is collaborating with Mānoa Academy, an initiative aimed at increasing success in higher education through dual-credit opportunities for high school students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

This new partnership extends Maunakea Scholars’ reach into higher education, allowing Hawai’i’s aspiring young astronomers on Hawai’i Island to receive college credit while taking an introductory-level class in astronomy that helps students develop their observing proposals for the Maunakea Scholars program.

“Our mission is to prepare Hawaiʻi’s youth for their future beyond graduation by offering authentic learning opportunities,” said Mary Beth Laychak, Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope outreach program manager. “We’re cultivating student scientists who will become the next generation of local engineers, technicians and astronomers who will operate and perform research with the Maunakea Observatories in the years to come.”

Hawai‘i Island Maunakea Scholars from Waiakea and Honoka‘a High Schools have the opportunity to earn dual credit at the University of Hawai‘i this semester.

The Mānoa Academy course will give students from Waiakea and Honoka‘a High Schools access to some of the best scientific resources in Hawaiʻi, as part of the pilot program in the Spring 2019 semester, commencing today. In conjunction with the class, experts and mentors from the Maunakea Observatories will guide students through the research process, helping them gain practical experience in astronomy through the Maunakea Scholars program.

“Hawaiʻi is home to the best astronomical research and the observatories provide opportunities for our students to find quality STEM jobs at home,” said Kelcy Koga, principal at Waiakea High School. “Being accepted into the Mānoa Academy program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will give our students a jumpstart on college and helps put them on a path to their future careers.”

The Maunakea Scholars program has grown steadily since its inception in 2015, this year expanding to 12 partner high schools representing every major Hawaiian island.

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Launched by Maunakea Observatories with the mission to bring Hawai‘i’s youth into the astronomical community, it leverages the facilities, telescopes and professionals who work at the observatories on Hawaiʻi Island to directly support the educational advancement of local students.

“Our partnership with Mānoa Academy allows us to make a greater impact on students who are enthusiastic about STEM,” said Laychak. “Following the spring semester, we are eager to grow our number of partner high schools and champion a new generation of aspiring astronomers.”

Mānoa Academy, which is administered through the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, allows eligible juniors and seniors the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn both college and high school credit simultaneously. Accepted Mānoa Academy students receive provisional admission to UH Mānoa. “We are thrilled to partner with Maunakea Scholars and have enjoyed the process of developing an online pilot to serve students at Waiakea and Honoka’a High Schools,” said Wendi Vincent, Mānoa Academy Director. “We look forward to expanding this pilot in future semesters and advancing Academy offerings statewide.”

This first-of-its-kind partnership between the Maunakea Scholars program and the University of Hawaiʻi’s Mānoa Academy is providing high school students with real-life STEM learning experiences beyond the classroom with the most scientifically productive telescopes in the world. Pairing collegiate- level learning with research opportunities for high school students, this partnership creates pathways from high school to college for students. It is among the many workforce development programs the Maunakea Observatories support.

For more information about astronomy opportunities for students, visit Manoa Academy in the High School and Maunakea Scholars.

About the Maunakea Observatories

The Maunakea Observatories are a collaboration of independent institutions with telescopes located on Maunakea on the island of Hawai’i. Together, the Observatories make Maunakea the most scientifically productive site for astronomy world-wide. The Maunakea Observatories include: Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope, Gemini International Observatory, James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (EAO), NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, Subaru Telescope, Submillimeter Array, United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, University of Hawai’i Hilo Educational Telescope, University of Hawai’i 2.2 Meter Telescope, Very Long Baseline Array and W. M. Keck Observatory (Keck I and Keck II).

About Mānoa Academy in the High School

Mānoa Academy in the High School is an innovative program that brings the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UH Mānoa) directly to the high school classroom. Offered by the College of Social Sciences, in partnership with high schools across the state of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa Academy in the High School is a dual credit program that allows students to earn high school and university credits at the same time with little to no cost. Taught by UH Mānoa professors, often in collaboration with teachers at the partner high schools, the program lets high school juniors and seniors begin their journey toward a baccalaureate degree in a way that fits conveniently into their daily lives.

About Maunakea Scholars

Maunakea Scholars is an innovative program designed to bring Hawai‘i’s aspiring young astronomers into the observatory community, competitively allocating observing time on world-class telescopes to local students. This is the first program of its kind internationally, leveraging the most powerful collection of telescopes in the world for the direct educational advancement of Hawai‘i’s high school students.

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