When internships offer hands-on experience, sparks of learning fly. More than a dozen students from Guam’s public and private schools immersed themselves in such an experience.

Sixteen high school students experienced four weeks of hands-on research in various fields of science as part of the National Science Foundation Includes STEM Program at the University of Guam.

One of the participants was Kiara Dela Rosa, a rising junior at Tiyan High School. Dela Rosa dived into marine biology by conducting research on coral sedimentation.

The Barrigada resident heard about the program through a group chat on WhatsApp. Though the four weeks were challenging, the intelligent young woman said she made a lot of fun memories.

In particular, the bright student notes her appreciation of getting to bond and laugh with other teens in the program.

Dela Rosa urges more Guamanian teens to participate next summer. “I encourage other teens to participate in the program because it is a fun opportunity and you’ll learn a lot,” she said.

Paving the road to opportunity

Brayven Ray Chase, a science fanatic, will be a senior at Okkodo High School. During four weeks of research at the UOG Marine Laboratory, Chase looked at the effects of coral bleaching.

The passionate senior got to work under the expertise of Dr. Bastian Bentlage, an associate professor at UOG.

Chase appreciated the entirety of the program, but what he is thankful for in particular is “how this internship offers guidance to opportunities and outlooks for future career options.”

Chase thanks his marine biology teacher and the UOG newsletter for informing him of this unique chance to embrace his ardor for science during summer.

The budding marine biologist encourages his peers all around the island to take advantage of such opportunities now because doing so will benefit them later.

Expanding skill sets

Avinash Dhanraj, a junior who is home-schooled, is another bright young island resident who jumped at the chance to participate in the program.

Soon after learning about the program from his previous physics teacher, Dhanraj completed his application.

When asked what he acquired from the program, Dhanraj said, “I learned everything from in-depth data collection and analysis to time management and science outreach.”

With a variety of skills acquired during the program, Dhanraj also got to work with several of Guam’s leaders in science and education. He credits not only his mentors but also his peers for giving him insight into experimentation and broadening his capability to comprehend science and conduct experiments.

At the same time, the home-schooler appreciates how the program introduced him to so many amazing teens who became his friends.

With all those benefits in mind, Dhanraj encourages those who possess enthusiasm for science to jump at the chance to apply next summer. He said the NSF Includes STEM Program provides a “phenomenal and invigorating experience and opportunity to work with amazing people and on amazing projects.”

Opportunities, such as the NSF Includes STEM Program, serve as a catalyst for the scientific leadership of tomorrow. One thing is certain – Guam teens are taking one step closer to changing the world today through their passion for all aspects of science.

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