Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research » Research » Research Project #434457

Research Project: Connecting Agriculture to STEM: Strategic Approach to Increasing Local Science Capacity

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

Project Number: 2040-21000-017-017-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2018
End Date: Jul 31, 2023

Many aspects of agriculture include science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The STEM educational approach is designed to build student interest in these subjects at an early age and to avoid a projected shortage in STEM fields, including agriculture. The Gene-ius Day STEM program currently reaches over 2,500 students annually. The objectives are to continue the existing program, as well as expand capacity by developing and testing new agriculture based curricula for students in grades 11-12. Specific objectives are to: 1) Demonstrate the connection between basic sciences and applied sciences in agriculture. 2) Develop grades 11 and 12 Gene-ius Day STEM program to help students improve their academic outcomes and ensure the opportunity to attend college. 3) Develop uniquely designed new curriculum based on contemporary teaching practices that emphasize experiential learning and student-driven learning. 4) Expose students to a new environment, an institution of higher learning, and career opportunities in agriculture.

The University of Hawaii Gene-ius Day program is a part of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) broader STEM and agriculture educational efforts. The Gene-ius Day program was developed to help Hawaii schools improve student’s college readiness and to spark student interest in STEM subjects and their connection to agricultural sciences. The Gene-ius Day, a partnership between ARS, CTAHR, and Hawaii public school system educators, is designed to enhance STEM and agricultural education at schools that otherwise lack opportunities for students to experience what science is, and why it is important. This includes Title 1 schools that serve low-income families. The Gene-ius Day program targets K-12 students and provides field trips, a school program, a Saturday workshop series, and a summer Title I school program Emphasis is placed on showing students the connections between STEM study areas and agriculture, and the way that STEM subjects are applied in the agricultural disciplines. This goal is accomplished through exciting, tactile (hands-on) activities that stimulate all the senses. This engaging experience motivates students and creates new cohorts of self-directed learners, and provides experiential learning in the process. To increase the percentage of the students from Title I middle schools, a summer Title 1 school Gene-ius program was launched in 2016 and includes a series of one-week long sessions at the University of Hawaii with newly developed Gene-ius Day curricula. This program and other Gene-ius Day activities will be expanded to include grades 11 and 12.