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The public is invited to Hawaiʻi’s largest family-friendly STEM event, when the Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council Onizuka Day of Exploration returns on Saturday, April 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu. The free event features about 100 hands-on activities, workshops and classes for all ages to enjoy.

Boy scouts looking at military gear

With a special focus on Hawaiian culture, sustainability and career development, there is something for everyone to learn and discover. Workshops on robotics, coding and renewable energy are planned. There will also be a variety of interactive exhibits and displays, as well as live demonstrations and talks from experts in various fields.

“This year’s Onizuka Day of Exploration at UH West Oʻahu celebrates the fusion of scouting skills, STEM activities and a deep appreciation for Hawaiian culture, resulting in an event that truly honors the spirit of exploration and the unique connection to the land that the Hawaiian people cherish,” said Alim Shabazz, the event chairperson.

Niu (coconuts) and ʻulu (breadfruit)

UH West Oʻahu faculty and staff have undertaken an initiative dedicated to food security and cultural rejuvenation through identifying and sharing the many functions of niu and ʻulu. The Uluniu Project represents a larger cultural agroforestry movement dedicated to food security and cultural rejuvenation as part of a commitment to ʻike kupuna (elder wisdom) and ʻike ʻāina (learning from land).

Rows of coconuts
The Uluniu Project

At the Uluniu Project booth, attendees can learn from Indigenous knowledge-keeper Indrajit Gunasekara from Southern Sri Lanka, about the many functions of the niu tree. Gunasekara, a financial aid officer, will share ideas about niu diversity, niu growth patterns, how to care for kumu niu (coconut tree) and how to develop an uluniu (coconut grove).

Participants will help weed and care for the uluniu on campus and see 12 niu poko (six varieties of coconut dwarfs) growing beside eight ʻulu trees.

“All people benefit from exposure to Indigenous and western style education methods and pedagogy,” said Manulani Aluli Meyer, the Konohiki (facilitator) of Kūlana o Kapole​i. “They are complementary to each other and represent synergistic coherence vital for our times. What this means is we can keep learning from the specificity of place and bring those lessons into larger systems that will ultimately prioritize how best to care for these places to insure our survival. Our very future depends on the choices we make now. The Boy Scouts of America can play an important role in how we will enter this next phase of science education with the inclusion of ancient ways of knowledge production through natural world understanding. This is what Onizuka Day is all about here at UH West Oʻahu.”

More on the Ellison Onizuka Day of Exploration

The Ellison Onizuka Day of Exploration, presented by Hawaiian Electric, is produced by The Boy Scouts of America, Aloha Council, and honors the legacy of Eagle Scout and Astronaut Ellison Onizuka.

“Our partnership with UH West Oʻahu for the Onizuka Day of Exploration has enabled us to enrich the event by integrating Indigenous practices and perspectives into the program,” Shabazz said. “We believe that combining STEM education with the wisdom of Hawaiian culture creates a profoundly meaningful and impactful experience for all participants.”

Questions about the event can be directed to

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