A combination of ASCC students and participants from two local high schools gave presentations during the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation 5th Annual Science Symposium held last week at the College. (l-r) Liana Gurr (Tafuna HS), Tiara Drabble (SPA), and from ASCC, Ruta Rppeti, Mona Chang, Evelyn Smith-Atonio, Mine Lilomaiava, and ChastityTuiolosega. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

ASCC Holds 5th Annual LSAMP Science Symposium

October 31, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Four students at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), along with two from the local high schools, shared their scientific research and projects during the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) 5th Annual Student Science Symposium this past Tuesday, October 28th. The LSAMP program supports students with a serious interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) areas, and the symposium provided current LSAMP participants, as well as promising high school students, with an opportunity to showcase the results of their work.

The diversity of topics covered during the symposium illustrated the wide range of options for research and projects under the LSAMP purview. Representing ASCC were Ms. Mona Leli’a Chang, who spent the past summer as a science intern at UH Manoa and presented on “Correlation Between the Genetic Information and the Physical Features of Zooplankton; Ms. Mine Lilomaiava and Ms. Evelyn Atonio, who gave a joint presentation on “Comparison of Agricultural Development Between the Virgin Islands & American Samoa”; Ms. Ruta Ropeti, who offered a “Comparative Study of Health in Michigan”; and Ms. Chastity Tuiolosega, who discussed “Wash Down vs. Dry Litter Piggery System.” The symposium also included presentations from high school students Ms. Liana Gurr of Tafuna, with “An Experimental Evaluation of Coliform and E Coli Bacteria on Cabbages,” and Ms. Tiara Drabble of South Pacific Academy, who reported on “Testing Plant Extracts Barringtonia asiatica & Deris malaccensis as Alternative Population Control Methods for the Cown-of-Thorns Seastar.”

“Through the LSAMP program, ASCC is reaching out to the high schools on island, both public and private, to generate student interest in the STEM areas,” explained Science Department Chairman and LSAMP Program Director at ASCC Dr. Randel De Wees. All local high schools were invited to send a science student slated to compete in the Island-Wide Science Symposium to also participate in the ASCC symposium. “This would allow them to practice their presentations in public before other scientists and receive feedback to help them during the island-wide competition,” said DeWees. Tafuna and South Pacific Academy both accepted the invitation, which led to the participation of Ms. Gurr and Ms. Drabble.

A nationwide initiative, LSAMP strives to create, maintain and expand alliance partnership activities designed to recruit eligible, under-represented community college students into STEM baccalaureate degree programs. “ASCC students interested in participating can consult with myself or Senior Lab Technician Victor Ualesi,” said Program Director Dr. DeWees. “The student fills out a standard evaluation form to determine eligibility, and if accepted, opportunities are often available for them to assist their peers by working as compensated science tutors. In instances where a student has a STEM-related project involving a qualified local or off-island mentor, funding may be available to assist them with this. We evaluate each applicant and proposal in accordance with the LSAMP guidelines.”

Ualesi elaborated on the program’s outreach to local high school students. “To identify promising students who have an interest in the STEM areas, we extended our recruiting to the high schools, specifically Juniors and Seniors in the National Honor Society, with the hope that when they graduate, LSAMP can provide a smooth transition for them to pursue their Associates degree in a STEM major,” he said. “The LSAMP program would like to identify such students while they’re in high school, and nurture and prepare them to become LSAMP participants during their time at ASCC.”

For more information on LSAMP opportunities at ASCC, call Dr. Randel DeWees at 699-9155 ext. 358 or Victor Ualesi at ext. 451.