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GELS Hawaii

Application is now closed for Summer 2024. Please check back in December 2024 for more information on Summer 2025.

To sign up and be notified about GELS Hawaii 2025 you can also sign up for our GELS Hawaii Contact Form by visiting the link here: GELS Hawaii Contact Form 2025

Program Dates: June 22 - June 29, 2024 

Eligibility: Students must currently be enrolled in grades 9-12 and at least 14 years of age. Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher. Applicants must also be comfortable engaging in water activities, as it is critical component of engagement during the program. 

Application Fee: $100

Tuition Fee: $3,600 (Includes course materials, room and board, ground transportation, and activities but does not include airfare to and from Hawaii. Payment plan is available upon request.)

Program Description

This program provides high achieving high school students the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with prominent locals, grad students, and university instructors around the Big Island of Hawai’i, exploring the causes and effects of climate change on earth’s systems.

Throughout the program, scientific research is connected with leadership training and personal growth, which students experience as the program unfolds. Students collaborate, reflect and engage in leadership activities from a value-based process resulting in positive social change, emphasizing the Social Change Model of Leadership. Students begin to understand the magnitude of the changes in their future world and learn steps to becoming competent stewards. Students are given time to journal their daily experiences and learn more about themselves as individuals and group members.

Program Goals

  • For the students to engage in learning the interconnections which exist between scientific research, leadership, and personal growth.
  • For the students to see themselves as caretakers of the world.
  • For the students to demonstrate their understanding of collecting and analyzing data by developing and presenting a scientific poster.
  • For the students to incorporate the 7 C’s of the Social Change Model of Leadership into their daily lives by developing a personal action plan.

Learning Outcomes


    • Students have a first-hand experience working with UCSD researchers and local Hawaiians studying water quality, coral reef health, and sustainability methods on the Hilo and Kona sides of Hawai’i.
    • Students demonstrate their understanding of the principles and topics covered during the program by developing a scientific poster presentation.
    • Students share and defend their data and analysis with their peers and researchers prior to completion of the program on the island.


    • Students learn the 7 C’s of the Social Change Model of Leadership and how these are connected to the work they are doing.
    • Students engage in service work at the Ka'upulehu Dryland Forest and at Kiholo Bay to give back and experience what a group of committed individuals can accomplish in a short period of time.
    • Students develop a personal action plan to incorporate each of the Social Change components into their daily lives once they return home.

Personal Growth

    • Students engage in individual and group activities to reflect and learn more about themselves.
    • Students experience first-hand the culture and customs of the island working with native Hawai’ians throughout the program.
    • Students learn what values and characteristics they contribute to group dynamics and group success both in scientific research and in peer interactions.
    • Students develop a final personal presentation and share their most impactful program components on the last evening.

Presentation Skills

    • Students engage in critiquing each other’s work in a respectful and constructive way.
    • Students learn to give and receive constructive criticism.
    • Students work within a group to develop and present a scientific poster analysis.
    • Students work independently to reflect and present their personal views on leadership.

Grading Rubric

For questions, please contact the Pre-College Department at or call (858) 534-0804.