In the late sixties, researchers at CRDG needed a group of summer-school students to field test lessons taught by a cadre of teachers being trained in the Foundational Approaches in Science Teaching (FAST) program. It was here that the idea of an inquiry-based summer science enrichment program was born. Thirty-four years later, CRDG continues to provide an active, experiential program, with offerings expanded to include mathematics and computer technology. The program is popular with students and teachers, some of whom are now in a second generation of participation. Students arrive each day expecting the unexpected. They may explore new dimensions of science through research on the Web, spend the day in a tide pool or forest, build a rocket, examine a math concept using interactive technology and problem-solving activities, program a robot, or film a TV commercial. Learning for these students lives beyond textbooks.
In 2004, CRDG Summer Programs welcomed 111 students to the ELS campus, some from as far away as Texas, Japan, and Taiwan. Six weeks of exploration and discovery in science and computer technology included a new course in marine science for eighth and ninth graders that engaged students in research activities at the University of Hawai‘i’s Institute of Marine Biology at Coconut Island in Kāne‘ohe Bay.