Natural Science Program

Is the Natural Science Major for You?

Are you interested in all areas of science?

Do you want to be a generalist, not a specialist?

Do you want to be a middle-school science teacher?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the Natural Science major may be for you. Science now transcends the boundaries of single subject. The real world is complicated, and figuring out how it works requires us to understand all aspects of nature. The connections between disciplines are especially apparent to middle school teachers because at this level science is taught in a multidisciplinary framework. Such teachers are generalists—not specialists—and need to have a holistic view of science as well as a solid base in biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental/ earth science.

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The Natural Science major was designed specifically to prepare students for becoming intermediate-level science teachers. Graduates of the program often enroll in the UH Hilo secondary teaching certification program following graduation. Others pursue non-teaching careers in the science arena, or become science educators in non-academic settings.

What Will I Learn?

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. Students can expect to gain a solid knowledge base in the fundamental sciences of chemistry and physics, and to receive a broad introduction to other disciplines, potentially including astronomy, computer science, geology, meteorology, oceanography, and the philosophy of science. Students choose between a curriculum that stresses biology, or a curriculum that emphasizes the physical sciences with less intense coverage of biology. 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. See the reverse side for the listing of courses required for the major.

Why UH Hilo?

UH Hilo is surrounded by unique tropical ecosystems, world-class astronomy observatories, active volcanoes, and tropical reefs. Can you think of a better place to study science? Many courses emphasize field trips that use this fabulous location as a “living laboratory”. We also feature small classes and personalized instruction. The plants, animals, volcanoes, ocean, and astronomical observatories of the Big Island are unique, and they bring biology, geology, oceanography, and astronomy


Please see the program curriculum in the UH Hilo Catalog.