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“JOINING HANDS” — A first for all the students who participated

The InvenTeam crewFour members of the InvenTeam crew

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Today, Monday, December 3 at 9a.m, a special presentation on underwater robotics will take place at the Tauese P. F. Sunia Ocean Center in Utulei, led by the InvenTeam crew from Stockbridge High School in Michigan

The public is invited.

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga is expected to offer special remarks.

Called "Joining Hands," the collaboration between InvenTeam and NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, through Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, is a program that allows local high school students — even some from the American Samoa Community College — to get insight on working with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) based curriculum and learn how to build their very own underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

Last week, 50 high school students representing Tutuila and Manu'a, along with a handful from ASCC, took part in the first ever underwater ROV workshop, a 2-day event that was hosted at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center.

It was a first for all the students who participated.

"It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from this experience and I'm glad I got the chance to be a part of it," said one of the students.

One of the teachers who was a chaperone during the event told Samoa News, "I wish there were programs like this when I was in school. These kids don't know how lucky they are and we should encourage local students to participate in programs like this —when they are offered — because it is a blessing."

A total of 13 students from Stockbridge HS traveled to American Samoa, accompanied by robotics instructor Bob Richards and math teacher Lori Zemke, to work with local students.

As part of their goal to "Inspire, Engage, Educate" and work alongside local youth, the group visited various high schools around the island throughout last week.

.According to NMSAS Education Outreach Coordinator, Isabel Gaoteote, "It's one thing for adults to speak to teenagers, it's another to have people their age interact with them. The reception and interest shown when we visited the local high schools was great, because students were able to hear from their peers, people they can relate to."

The entourage departs tonight, after spending 10 days in the territory, and Richards is hopeful that this won't be their last time here.

In addition to the ROV workshop, the InvenTeam group also conducted a bottom fish study around Aunu'u and a study of palolo worm spawning.

According to the NMSAS, data collected will aid Sanctuary managers in the development of long term monitoring programs and sustainable, adaptive management strategies.