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Local high school scientists vie for top honors at Science Symposium

(Left to right) Katherine Kim, Kimberly Mendoza, Georgina Alofa, Tasi-Rosalia Pereira, Kirsten De Lara, Julie Liang, Chloe Joan Villorente, Angela Chen, Jason Qi and Michael Sun
Source: ASDOE media release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa Department of Education announced the top winners at the thirty-third annual American Samoa Science Symposium — STEAM related competition for high school students. The science symposium is coordinated to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators who will solve the grand challenges of the future.

The Top 10 winners are now eligible to represent American Samoa at the Pacific Science Symposium for Science and Sustainability (PS3) in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Pacific Symposium for Science and Sustainability is an annual event coordinated by the Hawaii Academy of Science and funded by the Department of the Army, Navy and Air Force to encourage high school students to pursue research and study in science, engineering and mathematics.

The local symposium was held on November 25th at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room, Industrial Park, Tafuna. A total of 18 student research papers were reviewed by off-island readers (scientists and university faculties), selecting the top 13 student finalists to present on symposium day, judged by local judges.

The winning students are: First Place: Georgina Alofa of Manumalo Academy; Second Place: Tasi-Rosalia Pereira of Samoana High School; Third Place: Katherine Kim of Manumalo Academy; Fourth Place: Kirsten De Lara of Manumalo Academy; Fifth place: Chloe Joan Villorente of Manumalo Academy. Sixth place shared by Angela Chen of Pacific Horizon School and Kimberly Mendoza of Manumalo academy; Seventh place: Julie Liang of Manumalo Academy; Eighth place: Michael Sun of South Pacific Academy; Ninth place: Lily Feng of South Pacific Academy: Tenth place: Jason Qi of Manumalo Academy. Other student finalists of the local symposium in order of ranking are 11th place: Lolomaletaiotumua Faoliu of Nuuli Vocational Technical High School and Twelfth Place: Lorrina Melanie Lee of South Pacific Academy.

We wish to acknowledge our 5 semi-finalists who submitted papers for this year’s competition: Honorable mention in alphabetical order is Apollonia Sene Sevaaetasi of Leone High School; D’Angelo Yamson of Fa’asao Marist High School; Jaedyn Alefosio of Fagaitua High School, Liaina Cassens of Leone High School; and Teuila Ulufale of South Pacific Academy.

In recognition of their achievements, all finalists received a prize package containing a Certificate of Merit; Trophy, Medals and a bag with school supplies and goodies. The top 10 finalists (first place to ninth place) will participate in the Pacific Science Symposium for Science and Sustainability (PS3), Honolulu, Hawaii from January 16-17, 2021 to showcase their science research projects at Hawaii Academy of Sciences in a two-day PS3 competition. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and closure of borders, the top 10 finalists will participate virtually in the PS3 2021competition. They will present to a panel of break-out room judges on the 1st day and selected finalists will present on the 2nd day, followed by an awards ceremony.

The top five finalists from PS3 will be eligible to participate in the national program, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). The top three finalists will receive scholarships and the top two get the right to represent Hawaii region in the national JSHS competition. Scholarships and travel to international science events are prizes included at the national JSHS.

We like to acknowledge our off-island readers for their continuous support and advice. They were: Rob Rivers Ph.D., National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Bethesda, MD, George Hui Ph.D., Research Professor, University of Hawaii, School of Medicine, Honolulu, HI, Andrew Pati Ah Young, Ph.D., Scientist, Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, CA. Valentin Cracan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Scintillon Institute, Scripps Research, San Diego, CA.

And our local judges: Fatima Sauafea-Le'au,NOAA Fisheries – PIRO, Habitat Conservation Division, David Engelstad, P.E., Program Management Engineer, ASEPA Dr. Francine V. Amoa, Dept. of Health Pharmacist, Edna Noga PG Staff Engineer II, ASPA, Malala, and Meteorologist, National weather Service.

On behalf of the Director of Education, Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, we wish to express our Faafetai tele to all parents and supporters in attendance to witness the presentations by these ‘young scientists’ of American Samoa, and to Sala Dr. Sataua Mataese Samuelu, Director, American Samoa Department of Agriculture for their conference room.

This special project is coordinated by the Science/health Division, Office of Curriculum and Instruction (OCI), Department of Education and funded by USDOE Consolidated Grant of Insular Affairs. For any questions or inquiries regarding this special project, please contact Dr. Joserose Jyothibhavan, OCI.