Hands-On Research

Students work side-by-side with University of Hawai’i Hilo researchers, grad students and native Hawai’ians to learn how the island thrives ecologically, economically, culturally and socially via hands-on work at multiple locations around the Big Island.

The week starts with a day at Volcanoes National Park covering the history of Kilauea volcano, the geology, and the flora and fauna of this island volcano. Students are led across a lava caldera, tunnel into a dormant lava tube, and view the current activity of the volcano.

Working through the Marine Science Department, students canoe and perform plankton trawls to then study those collected samples in the lab later in the day.

Sustainability is taught through visits to multiple sites with native Hawai’ian Cheyenne Perry to plant seedlings, review Hawai’ian cultural traditions, and examine climate differences between the two sides of the island.

The group shifts mid-week to Waimea to stay at the Hawai’i Preparatory Academy and work at Holoholokai Beach collecting data on the current conditions of the near shore coral reef. Coral reef health, intertidal studies and water quality tests teach us how fragile these ecosystems are.

Students give back to the islanders before the week ends by working with the Nature Conservancy at Kiholo Bay to help restore this tranquil turtle sanctuary to its pre-tsumani condition.

Through the scientific studies and the evening leadership activities, students come to appreciate and learn how to take the lead in sustaining our planet environmentally, be it as future scientists, environmental educators, or simply concerned, informed and action-oriented citizens.