Now accepting applications for Spring 2023, ASTR150. CLICK HERE to apply now!

A Bridge to the Stars offers free enrollment and a confidence-building, early-college experience in a spring semester astronomy course at UMKC. Between 2012 and 2020, more than 70 Kansas City high school students have completed a first-year astronomy course for college credit with Professor Daniel McIntosh, a professional astrophysicist and award-winning educator. The program is made possible through funding by the NASA Missouri Space Grant.

Program courses

ASTR 150 Astronomy: Motions of the Cosmos

Spring 2023 – Tu, W, Th 4-5:30 p.m. (Jan 17th to May 12th)

Students learn how and why everything in the universe is moving. Topics include gravity, the formation of planetary systems, exoplanets, the bizarre nature of black holes and other stellar corpses, dark matter and the expansion of the universe. Students gain scientific literacy and develop important skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, communication and problem-solving in a fun and dynamic early-college experience.

View ASTR 150 in UMKC catalog

ASTR 155 Astronomy: Starlight and Star Stuff

Spring 2024 – Tu, W, Th 4–5:30 p.m. (TBD)

Students learn how astronomers decipher the cosmic message in starlight. Topics include light and atoms, telescopes, the birth and death of stars, monster black holes and the Big Bang. Students gain scientific literacy and develop important skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving in a fun and dynamic early-college experience.

View ASTR 155 in UMKC catalog

Benefits of becoming a Bridge Scholar

“Through this program, we’re providing students with high impact exposure to science through innovative experiential learning with a professional scientist. It’s a bridge between high school and college, and it fosters student success.” — Prof. McIntosh

  1. Scholarship covers all tuition costs and course materials. Receive UMKC student ID to access campus resources and use as free Metro bus pass.
  2. Earn 3 science college credits - Course fulfills Missouri CORE 42 Mathematical Sciences requirement.
  3. Learning Experience: Learn about space in a fun, interactive, inclusive and student-centered course designed to help every student gain a strong conceptual understanding of how nature and the physical universe work. Prof. McIntosh’s introductory astronomy courses offer an exciting way to explore the cosmos, to learn about science, and to see how advances in technology & engineering continue to expand our knowledge. This is very helpful for all students, but particularly those who are thinking about pursuing future college degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
  4. Weekly mentoring sessions at UMKC with near-peer mentors dedicated to helping Bridge students succeed in this course, specifically, and at college, in general.
  5. Past Scholar Success: a) 95% of past participants successfully completed the course; b) 67% of past 73 Scholars have continued on to college; c) 23% of past Scholars are pursuing 4-year STEM degrees.
Now accepting applications for Spring 2023, ASTR150. CLICK HERE to apply now!

Program Schedule:

  1. Orientation the week of January 9th
  2. Weekly Schedule:
    • Class meets Tuesday/Thursday, 4:00 - 5:15
    • Mentor sessions are Wednesday, 4:30 - 5:30

Who is Prof. McIntosh?

A distinguished professor of astronomy and astrophysics, Dr. McIntosh joined the UMKC Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2008; He is currently Professor of Physics & Astronomy in the new Division of Energy, Matter & Systems in the UMKC School of Science & Engineering. Prof McIntosh is … to all students. He has won several teaching awards including, most notably, the 2016 University of Missouri System President’s Award for Innovative Teaching.

“Because my classes are very active, meaning there are many opportunities to discuss ideas with peers, students gain an excellent understanding of scientific concepts and they really have fun learning!”

Dr. McIntosh is also an expert on how galaxies such as our Milky Way have changed and grown during cosmic history. Much of his scientific work over the last 24 years has involved using the Hubble Space Telescope to study the development of galaxies.

Learn more about Prof. McIntosh

Program mission

A Bridge to the Stars is committed to actively engaging students from all backgrounds in enriching and impactful experiences related to astronomy, the physical sciences and STEM.

Community partnerships

Educational partners

High school partners

  • Allen Village High School
  • Basehor-Linwood High School
  • Center High School
  • Crossroads Preparatory Academy High School
  • East High School
  • Frontier School of Excellence High School
  • Grandview High School
  • Grain Valley High School
  • Hogan Preparatory Academy High School
  • Lee’s Summit West High School
  • Sumner Academy of Arts and Science High School
  • University Academy High School

What KC high-school teachers, administrators, and former Bridge Scholars are saying:

“A Bridge to the Stars helped me see myself in a world of STEM that I thought impossible; I was surrounded by people who supported me every step of the way and it was one of the most defining programs that set me forward to pursue a degree in engineering.”-- Jazmin Renteria Gonzalez (at U Missouri, Electrical Engineering), Bridge Scholar 2019 & 2020

“A Bridge to the Stars is a great program that shows you the possibility of college and the STEM field. The course … showed me the vast possibilities of space. I highly recommend the course to anyone who loves astronomy and learning about everything beyond our world.” -- Lina Alsalman (at UMKC, Biology, pre-Med), Bridge Scholar 2020

“A great program taught by a very inspired professor!” Dr. Larry Weible, department chair, East High School Science Department

“Students and parents need to realize this is a GREAT opportunity.” Ms. Crystal Ward, former high school principal, Hogan Prep High School

In the news

Celebrating a Decade of Bridge to the Stars (Sept 28, 2022) 
We are now a STEM Connect-KC organization (Oct. 1, 2019) 
UMKC Today feature (Sept. 28, 2017)
University of Missouri The Connector feature (Feb 1, 2017)
UMKC Today feature (Sept. 15, 2016)

Questions? Email us.