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American Samoa Department of Education 36th Science Symposium 2023-2024


Top six winners of 36th American Samoa High School Science Symposium 2023

From Left to right: Kim Gerald Garcia, Princess Jazzelle Viesca, Daniel Lee, Amelie Chen, Falagai Fuiava, Renee Dunson


The American Samoa Department of Education (ASDOE) announced the winners of the 36th annual American Samoa Science Symposium, a STEAM-related competition for high school students. The symposium aims to inspire young scientists, engineers, and innovators who will solve the challenges of the future.

The top six winners are now eligible to represent American Samoa at the 2024 Hawaii and Pacific Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) in Honolulu, Hawaii. This annual event is administered by the Hawaii Academy of Science.

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) Program is a Tri-Service (U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force and Space Force) sponsored STEM competition that promotes original research and experimentation in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the high school level and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement.

The local symposium was held on November 30th at the Department of Youth and Women’s Affair’s Conference Room in Tafuna. A total of 24 student research papers were reviewed by off-island and resident readers (scientists and university faculties), selecting the top 10 student finalists to present on symposium day and judged by local judges.

The winners of the science symposium are as follows:

  1. First Place: Amelie Chen from Pacific Horizons School with her project titled "Antipodal Algae: Energy Solutions for a Tropical Island."

  2. Second Place: Princess Jazzelle Viesca from Fa’asao Marist High School, who conducted research on "Determining which banana (Musa acuminata) variety (Fa’i Palagi, Fa’i Samoa, Fa’i Pata, Misiluki, Pulukamu) in American Samoa contains the highest amylase activity."

  3. Third Place: Falagai Fuiava from Manumalo Academy, who explored the "Efficiency of a Lightweight Concrete Made of Polystyrene Foam and Cement."

  4. Fourth Place: Daniel Lee from Pacific Horizons School, whose project focused on "Predicting Coral Bleaching: Deep Learning Model for Detecting Zooxanthellae Expulsion and Maximizing Conservation."

  5. Fifth Place: Kim Gerald Garcia from Fa’asao Marist High School, who investigated the "Growth Effects of Indigenous Microorganisms on Abelmoschus esculentus (Okra) in American Samoa."

  6. Sixth Place: Renee Dunson from Leone High School, who studied the "Testing the Effectiveness of various household solutions in dissolving Polystyrene (Styrofoam)."

  7. Seventh Place: Charles Tauiliili from Tafuna High School, with a project on "A Short-Term Study on Macroalgae Abundance in Proximity to Freshwater Input as an Indicator of Excess Land-Based Source of Nutrients (Total N, Total P, DIN), in Three Coral Reef Flat Habitats in American Samoa."

  8. Eighth Place (tie):

    • John Marcial Toa Mirasol from Manumalo Academy, conducted an evaluation of "Natural Organic Sorbents (Coco Coir and Human Hair) in Absorbing Oil Spills."

    • Emirina Ioane from Leone High School, with a project titled "Barriers and Facilitators of Recruitment and Retention for Health Research Involving Adolescents in American Samoa."

  9. Ninth Place: Alice Lee from South Pacific Academy, who tested the "Antimicrobial Properties of Dichloromethane and Ethanol Extract of Phymatosorus scolopendria Against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus."

We also acknowledge our 24 semi-finalists who submitted research papers for this year’s competition.

In recognition of their achievements, all finalists received a prize package containing a Certificate of Merit, Trophy, and a bag with school supplies and goodies. The top six finalists are now eligible to participate in the 2024 Hawaii and Pacific JSHS in Honolulu, Hawaii, from January 20-21, 2024, to showcase their science research projects. They will present to a panel of break-out room judges on the first day, and selected finalists will present on the second day, followed by an awards ceremony.

We would like to acknowledge our off-island and resident judges:

  • Lawrence Agodoa, Ph.D., Former Director of NIDDK’s Office of Minority Health Research Coordination, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

  • Rafael Aniu Peres-David, MS; Ph.D., University of Hawai'i, Manoa

  • Krit Phankitnirundorn, Ph.D., University of Hawai'i, Manoa

  • Valerie Brown, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

  • Aifili Dr. John Tufa Ph.D., Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources Division, American Samoa Community College

  • Matamua Katrina Mariner, American Samoa Power Authority

  • Susan A. Save, Department of Veterans Affair

  • Alexsandra Sesepasara, American Samoa Power Authority

On behalf of the Director of Education, Talauega Dr. Samasoni Asaeli, we wish to express our Faafetai tele to all teachers, parents, and supporters in attendance to witness the presentations by these ‘young scientists’ of American Samoa, and to Dr. Salote V. Aoelua-Fanene, Director, Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs for their partnership and conference room. This special project is coordinated by the Science/Health Division, Division of Curriculum, and Instruction (DCI), 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, DCI.


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