Above: Students and staff pose with the Helelani planetary rover outside HI-SEAS on Mauna Loa during the 2018 Women’s STARS Program organized by PISCES.

The PISCES Women’s STARS (STEM Aerospace Research Scholars) Program has received $15,000 in grant and sponsorship awards to encourage and support Hawaii’s young women in STEM.

Hawaii Community Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant through its Career Connected Learning Program. Heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, Inc. donated $10,000 and will also provide staff.

The awards will provide a more in-depth and enriching learning experience to students, lengthening the program and covering expenses for transportation, meals and overnight accommodations.

“We are honored and very appreciative to receive these generous contributions for the STARS Program from Hawaii Community Foundation and our partners at Caterpillar,” said Chris Yoakum, STARS program coordinator. “With a fully funded program, we can focus on the important task of giving our students an inspiring summer experience that we hope will positively impact their lives for years to come.”

This year, PISCES has partnered with Hawaii Science and Technology Museum (HSTM)—a Hawaii Island nonprofit dedicated to STEM outreach and education—to manage STARS funding. As fiscal sponsor, HSTM has been instrumental in managing and dispersing the grant and donation money.

Now moving into its sixth year, the STARS Program offers a unique summer STEM experience to Hawaii high school girls including presentations, behind-the-scenes tours, hands-on workshops and mentoring opportunities. The week-long camp engages students with women scientists and engineers working in astronomy, aerospace engineering, space settlement research, marine biology, conservation, geology and planetary science.

PISCES received a record-number of applicants for STARS this year from students around the state. Due to budget and facility limitations, the program in its current format only accommodates up to 12 students. PISCES is working to expand the program to offer more opportunities.