Maunakea Scholars program expands

  • Courtesy photo

    The Maunakea Scholars program is expanding to other islands.

Maunakea Observatories announced its signature Maunakea Scholars program will, for the first time, be available to schools on every major island in Hawaii.

This expansion extends the program’s unique educational opportunities to eager students statewide, according to a news release from the observatories.


“We are thrilled to have a presence on every island, offering students across Hawaii a pathway to become tomorrow’s leaders in astronomy and other high-tech arenas,” said Mary Beth Laychak, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope outreach program manager. “Maunakea Scholars combines high-level research skills and observing time on the world’s most powerful telescopes. It’s an innovative model for 21st century education, deeply rooted across all of Hawaii.”

The fourth Maunakea Scholars cohort adds schools from Kauai and Lanai, bringing the total number of schools to 12, the highest number yet. Participating schools include Kapaa High School (Kauai); Kapolei High School, Waipahu High School, Kalani High School, Nanakuli High School (Oahu); Lanai High and Elementary School; Molokai High School; King Kekaulike High School (Maui); Honokaa High School, Waiakea High School, Kealakehe High School and Kohala High School (Hawaii Island).

“In the past three years we have reached hundreds of students, and this year alone we will reach hundreds more,” said Doug Simons, CFHT executive director. “We are growing closer to our goal of bringing this program to every public high school in Hawaii, cultivating a generation of explorers that we hope will lead Hawaii into the future.”

The Maunakea Scholars program has grown steadily since its inception in 2015, attracting the attention of new sponsors and partners who make exciting developments possible.

Funding from the Hawaii Community Foundation brings dual credit college level online astronomy classes to participating schools at no extra cost. A grant from First Hawaiian Bank covers numerous expansion costs including interisland airfare for students flying to Maunakea and mentors flying throughout the state, and a grant from Kamehameha Schools to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center supports increased cultural education.


The program also recently introduced the new Hokuala Scholarship, which awards $10,000 annually to Maunakea Scholars interested in pursuing astronomy in college.

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