SIS student shines in summer internship

Posted on Aug 19 2019


Saipan International School senior Anika Snyder presents the results of her summer internship to new faculty members of the University of North Carolina Charlotte. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Saipan International School senior Anika Snyder was asked to present the results of her summer internship to new faculty members from the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

More than 50 new professors visited the Discovery Place Education Studio in Charlotte, N.C. to receive an overview of current research projects at UNCC and Snyder was invited to present the results of her summer research as a part of the orientation.

The Discovery Place is an interactive science museum that ranks as one of the state’s largest tourist destination in North Carolina with over 700,000 visitors per year. The Discovery Place houses an indoor rainforest, anatomy exhibitions, a touch tank, and an IMAX theater. It also has an extensive aquarium display. This display features hundreds of marine species from all across the world, including many species of coral. Typically, identification of coral and their symbiotic algae can be quite tricky. This is where Snyder’s summer internship came in.

Snyder joined the Reitzel Lab at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for an internship over the summer and worked to identify the types of algae living within the coral samples displayed at Discovery Place Science. These algae are important because they provide a tremendous amount of the corals’ energy requirements.

With the help of Elliot Provance, director of Collections at the Discovery Place Science, Natalie Wells (UNCC undergraduate researcher in the Reitzel lab) was able to collect coral samples from the aquariums and extract their DNA. Snyder then used methods such as a polymerase chain reactions and restriction enzyme digests to distinguish between different types of algae hosted within the coral samples. This information will later be used to develop programs and displays within Discovery Place Science to inform the public about how molecular data can be used for species identification and biogeography.

Snyder is an Advance Placement Capstone Diploma candidate at SIS, having successfully completed AP Seminar last year. AP Seminar provides students the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and explore real-world issues, culminating in formal presentations before a live audience.

“The critical thinking and presentation skills that students learn in seminar will help our students succeed at university and beyond and definitely helped Anika gain the confidence and experience necessary to successfully present her work in front of a large panel of professional scientists,” said SIS college counselor Whit Altizer.

AP Seminar is followed by AP Research, where students plan and conduct a year-long research-based investigation to explore a research topic of individual interest.

Snyder plans on building off of her work at the Reitzel lab to further her knowledge of the symbiotic relationships between coral and zooxanthella.

SIS gets 80% AP passing rate

In other news, SIS achieved an over 80% passing rate for the AP classes for the year despite the technological challenges wrought by Super Typhoon Yutu.

AP classes, taught at beginning college level, are content-dense, accelerated and demanding, and without the internet, proved to be even more challenging for students.

The results, published by AP and the College Board, is particularly impressive in light of the number and diversity of exams taken by SIS students and the challenges the teachers faced in preparing for the exams.

SIS students banded together in coffee shops, around iPhone hotspots, and even under a shady tree to study to meet the varied challenges of AP Calculus, AP Human Geography, AP Language, AP German, AP Japanese and Spanish, and AP Seminar, among others. The teachers also ensured that the students had the high quality, critically-demanding lessons required to prepare for the exams.

AP Seminar, the first class of the AP Capstone Diploma, stood out for its 100% pass rate. Their average was over 3.8, almost a full point higher than the national average.

The SIS’ results were generally above the CNMI national average in every exam category, and often above the international average for several categories, including AP Human Geography, German, and Japanese.

SIS is the only school in Micronesia approved to offer the AP Capstone Diploma. SIS is excited to welcome students into the second class of the program, AP Research. With the addition of AP Research, AP Physics and AP Biology, SIS high school students currently have the choice of 11 AP classes, more than any other school in the CNMI. (PR, Saipan Tribune, Iva Maurin)

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