Camp aims to introduce girls to careers in STEM fields and the women finding success working in them



A dozen high school girls from throughout Hawaii are shooting for the STARS this summer.

A weeklong space and science summer camp for high school females, the STEM Aerospace Research Scholars Program, known as STARS, kicked off Monday.

First launched in 2014 by the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, the program aims to introduce the students to careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and successful women who work in them.

Kyla Edison, materials science and geology technician for PISCES, said the program started small but has grown since its inception.

“We are doing this because females are underrepresented in STEM and science,” she said. “… In my experience, when I was in college and taking science classes, I was one of the few females in class.”

The biggest issue, though, is the lack of encouragement for girls when they are interested in science, Edison said.

“Or, if they are wanting to do it, they don’t have the confidence, and they’re not feeling like they are as competent as their male counterparts, or they have a hard time getting into science.” she continued. “This program is designed to show them not only (can they be) scientists and engineers and can be good at math, but let’s show you the successful females that are already in science.”

In the past, Edison said, the program had a heavy astronomy focus, but during the past two years, STARS expanded.

This year, it includes navigation activities, tours of telescope headquarters and the actual telescopes, overnight excursions to Hale Pohaku on Maunakea and a Mars simulation habitat located on Mauna Loa, a guided hike to learn about geology and volcanology, and a visit to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in West Hawaii.

Hawaii Island is perfect for this program “because there’s all kinds of different science, and there’s plenty of female scientists here,” Edison said. “And so we tell them if these women can do it, then you can do it. Here are the resources you need to get into science, here’s an idea of what each science is like … .

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