Judith D Lemus

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Educational approaches that provide meaningful, relevant opportunities for place-based learning have been shown to be effective models for engaging indigenous students in science. The Laulima A ‘Ike Pono (LAIP) collaboration was developed to create a place-based inclusive learning environment for engaging local community members, especially Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, in scientific research at a historically significant ancient Hawaiian fishpond. The LAIP internship focused on problem-solving activities that were culturally relevant to provide a holistic STEM research experience. The 3-year program was successful in engaging a high proportion of native Hawaiian and other underrepresented minority participants. Interns reported high levels of increased interest, understanding, and competency in several areas of environmental and field science. The program also influenced interest and participation in natural science, environmental studies, resource management and community organizations for a high percentage of participants. However, no changes were observed regarding interest or plans for STEM-related coursework or majors as a result of participation. This article discusses place-based science internships such as LAIP as a potential model for increasing relevancy and inclusiveness in research experiences and enhancing access to future STEM opportunities.

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