Natural Science

The Natural Science program was designed to prepare students to become science teachers. The curriculum promotes a holistic view of science that is excellent preparation for teaching at the intermediate school level. The program also provides training for students with broad interests who intend to work in interdisciplinary arenas such as environmental science.

Students in the Natural Science program take courses in a wide spectrum of science subjects, plus complete a minor in one of these subjects. The minor gives students an area of specialization. Graduates of the Natural Science program often enroll in the UH Hilo secondary teacher licensure program following graduation. Other graduates pursue non-teaching careers.

Read the short Natural Science brochure, Is the Natural Science Major for you? (PDF)

Goals for Student Learning in the Major

The primary educational objective of the Natural Science program is the development of a solid foundation in the concepts, goals, and methods of a variety of science disciplines. Students can expect to build a strong knowledge base in the fundamental sciences of chemistry and physics, and to receive a broad introduction to other disciplines, such as astronomy, computer science, geology, oceanography, and the philosophy of science. Students choose among three curricular concentrations: (1) general science, (2) physical science, or (3) environmental science.

Students can expect to deepen their knowledge through hands-on laboratory investigations, to develop observational and experimental skills, and become familiar with safety protocols appropriate to teaching laboratories. Students will develop critical thinking skills and a more detailed understanding of scientific concepts and methods through completion of a minor in a specific science discipline. Students will be able to apply their knowledge to current issues, and give a professional-style oral presentation on a scientific topic.

Special Aspects of the Program

UH Hilo is surrounded by tropical ecosystems, world-class astronomy observatories, active volcanoes, and tropical coral reefs. Some courses in the Natural Science program emphasize field trips that use Hilo’s extraordinary location as a “living laboratory.” The plants, animals, volcanoes, ocean, and observatories of the Big Island are unique and bring to life the study of biology, geology, oceanography, and astronomy.