Space & Planetary Sciences

STAR Academy for Students

Program Outcomes

STAR Academy is an intensive semester-long educational program designed to encourage high school students to pursue careers in STEAM. It focuses on providing opportunities to those who are curious about or have decided to enrolled in such fields in the future. This academy strives to teach students how to research and develop projects, and how to incorporate art and creativity into their scientific queries. Experts in these fields visit the classroom to share their stories and demonstrate what their work entails. Coding skills are developed throughout the program to introduce students to data analysis. Activities and assignments are also part of the curriculum to reinforce the material provided in the classroom.

Opportunities for Students

Outreach and Scientific Communication

At the end of the term, a student is selected to attend to a professional conference, such as the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference or the AAS Division of Planetary Sciences Conference, to present their research project. Their participation is an additional effort to disseminate their results and it allows students to meet and network with other STEAM professionals.

About the Program

The Angel Ramos Foundation Science and Visitor Center at the Arecibo Observatory (ARFSVC) has been focused on highlighting the importance of the Arecibo Observatory and its invaluable work throughout the years. STAR Academy is funded as a part of NASA's Near-Earth Objects Observation Program grant. It was awarded to the University of Central Florida under the Arecibo Observatory Planetary Radar Program. The STAR Academy is administered by Universidad Ana G. Méndez.

Our Gallery

Since 2018, dozens of teachers have become part of one our programs that promotes the development of STEAM education, and contributed to the professional development of teachers in the field of science. The purpose of this project is to train science teacher with hands-on activities and techniques to facilitate and strengthen the teaching and learning process of STEAM in the classroom of Puerto Rico. This project has provided teachers with activities that can be developed in their classrooms that will motivate students and get them interested in science and postgraduate studies in STEM-related areas.


Due to the need of more young talent interested in STEM careers, and as part of our mission of contributing actively in Puerto Rico’s education, we have developed the STEM Teaching at Arecibo for students (STAR). In order to continue highlighting science, training, and inspiring the scientists of the future, the Arecibo Observatory is offering to a total of thirty (30) high school students, the opportunity to be part of the story of the most powerful and sensitive radio telescope in the world. The program runs on a semester basis (spring and fall), each for a period of 16 weeks, staring on fall 2019 and continuing until spring 2022 Students can be part of an intensive research based academy that will help them develop all the required skills to be one of the best future scientists in the world. This initiative incorporates the three main sciences of study at Arecibo and expects to engage the public in planetary radar science, in a classroom focused on promoting an environment of critical thinking and problem solving through the scientific method. As part of the program, once a year, one of the members of the STAR Team and a selected STAR participant will travel to attend either the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference or the AAS Division of Planetary Sciences Conference or related conference or workshop, to present and participate in the engagement effort, disseminate program results, and present the results of the programed evaluations.


To be eligible to participate in the STAR Academy students must comply with the following minimum requirements:
  • Be a 9th to 12th grade student living in Puerto Rico.
  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or more.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm for Science and Space.
  • Be proficient in talking, reading, and writing in English.
  • Own a computer with access to internet.
Compliance with all minimum requirements does not guarantee selection of participation in the STAR Academy.
1. A virtual interview will be conducted to test the interest on astronomy and research, as well the English proficiency.
2. The Academy will be implemented this semester primarily virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the health and safety of the students and the staff.

Applications to the STAR Academy are complete online only. To successfully complete the application you must upload the following documents and the following information:
  • Profile picture (2"x2"): Pictures provided must uphold to professional standards. No selfies will be accepted as profile pictures.
  • Information of two references: The required information about references are full name, telephone number, email, and institution of employment. References provided could be from teachers, instructors, academic counselors, among others. Family members are not considered references for the purpose of this application.
  • Personal Essay: The personal essay must be written in English. In this essay, the student must express his/her interest in participating in the STAR Academy, his professional aspirations in STEM related careers, and how would his/her skill set benefit the overall program.
  • Academic Transcript: Unofficial transcripts and grade cards can be accepted for the purposes of the application process. However, if a student is selected to participate in the STAR Academy, he/she will have to provide an official transcript upon request.
  • Resume/CV: The resume/cv needs to reflect the academic experience and skill set that the student possess. After school activities, clubs, and organizations participation are highly suggested to be included in the resume, even if they are non-STEM related. Leadership experience and participation in other STEM programs is highly valuable in the resume/cv.

NOTE: Notice that all letters of recommendation and supporting documents should be submitted by the registration deadline.

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Applications for the Spring 2022 semester are open until Dec 31st, 2021. Early application is highly encouraged. Before you start your application, please read the Application Instructions for Students Section.

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