Five Stars Pathway: Engaging Girls in Science through Multigenerational Mentors

Project Name:
Five Stars Pathway: Engaging Girls in Science through Multigenerational Mentors

Project Description:
The "Five Stars Pathway" project creates a model in which five "generations" of females engage in science together in an afterschool setting, with each "generation" representing one stage in the pathway of pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). The five "generations" are elementary school girls, middle school girls, undergraduate students, graduate students and research scientists. The model will be field tested in existing Girls Inc. programs, then afterschool program professionals nationwide will be trained on the model both directly through a national workshop and conferences, and indirectly through a project website.

Target Audience:
The primary audiences for Five Stars Pathway are middle school girls and afterschool program professionals, with the secondary audience being elementary school aged girls.

The overall goal of the Five Stars Pathway project is to increase the representation of females in Heliophysics by engaging girls in relevant STEM content and providing them with female role models.

Our objectives to achieve the project’s goals are to:

  1. Develop a Heliophysics-related, multigenerational mentorship afterschool program model which is implemented at two Girls Inc. affiliates in the San Francisco East Bay Area.
  2. Provide professional development training for afterschool program professionals on the multigenerational program model at an additional five Girls Inc. affiliates nationwide.
  3. Disseminate the multigenerational program model to the broader afterschool provider community via a national training workshop, a website which provides resources and training materials, and conferences.

Expected Outcomes
The measurable outcomes that we expect as a result of Five Stars Pathway are divided into three main categories:

  • outcomes resulting from direct contact with middle and elementary school girls,
  • outcomes resulting from direct training of afterschool program professionals, and
  • outcomes resulting from indirect training of afterschool program professionals.

Direct Contact with Middle and Elementary School Girls

  • Exposure of approximately 120 middle school girls and 600 elementary girls to Heliophysics content.
  • Positive increase in female middle school students’ concept of themselves as a person who is interested
    in and can do science.


  • Increased understanding on the part of the middle school students regarding the variety of career opportunities available within NASA.
  • Create and facilitate interactions between middle school students and adult mentors.
  • Create and facilitate mentorship interactions between elementary school students and middle school student mentors.

Direct Training of Afterschool Program Professionals

  • Afterschool program professionals from Girls Inc. affiliates in California and nationwide participate in training for the Five Stars Pathway program model.
  • Additional Girls Inc. affiliate sites are able to replicate the Five Stars Pathway program.
  • Afterschool program professionals from a variety of organizations nationwide learn about the Five Stars Pathway program model at national and regional conferences for out-of-school time professionals.
  • Increased familiarity with the range of NASA informal resources for out-of-school time program providers.
  • Increased familiarity with NASA programs which keep girls in the NASA “Pipeline”, such as mentor programs at NASA Centers, Solar Week and other programs focused on keeping students involved in solar science.

Indirect Training of Afterschool Program Professionals

  • Afterschool program professionals visit/view the Five Stars Pathway website to learn about the program model and access training resources.
  • Other Girls Inc. affiliates become familiar with the Five Stars Pathway model as well as other NASA programming to support out-of-school time programs.

Project Design:
In direct response to end-user needs, the Five Stars Pathway program was collaboratively designed by Education/Public Outreach (E/PO) professionals and scientists at CSE@SSL, afterschool program professionals from Girls Inc. and University of California, Berkeley female graduate students and undergraduate students who are studying physics and astronomy. In addition, we sought input from teens participating in the current NASA-funded Surfin’ the Solar Wind informal education program. The project design is based on best practices in youth development within afterschool settings, such as the Community Network for Youth Development Framework for Practice (Community Network for Youth Development, 2006).

Lead Institution:
Center for Science Education, Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley


  • Girls, Incorporated
  • Girls, Inc. of Alameda County
  • Girls, Inc. of the Island City

This program is in progress.

Effectiveness and Impact:

Year 1 Preliminary Summary of Evaluation Activities:
For this project, the Research Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science is serving as the external evaluator. The evaluation focuses primarily on the development and implementation of the Five Stars Pathway program, what middle school girls gain from participating in this experience, and the effectiveness of the intergenerational model. Secondarily we will evaluate expansion and dissemination of the program through the Girls Inc. affiliate instructor training and through the website. During the evaluation, the Research Group will work closely with program developers at SSL and Girls’ Inc. to ensure that the evaluation addresses the needs of all stakeholders. Evaluation tools include:

  • observations of planning meetings, trainings, and program sessions
  • pre-and post-surveys of Girls, Inc. participants
  • interviews and focus groups with mentors and students.