Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science in the News
KAMS Junior from Republic to Present Research in Topeka
By Patrick Vulgamore
On February 11, Brie Little and four others represented Fort Hays State University (FHSU) by presenting their respective research at the Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. Little, from Republic, Kansas, is currently a high school junior in her second semester at the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS) at FHSU.
Based on data from the National Trends Network, Little’s research considered a correlation between the PH levels of precipitation in the state of Washington and the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens.
“Volcanos emit a lot of gases,” said Little, “and SO 2, or sulfur dioxide, is one of the main gases they emit. It’s also one of the main causes of acid rain.”
Little’s research began as a project for her geoscience class. Since then, it has traveled to Topeka for a science-fair style presentation to state representatives and the public. Only five students from each Kansas Board of Regents Institution may present at the capitol, and this year, three of FHSU’s presenters are in the KAMS program.
“I was able to explore the capitol and tell representatives why my research is important,” Little said. “The structure was very personalized, so I would address one or two people at a time. It was a fun experience.”
Little has also applied for two additional competitions, including the Kansas Science Fair on February 28 and the Junior Sciences Humanities Synopsis at Oklahoma State on March 6 and 7.
KAMS Senior Accepted to Present Research in Topeka
By Patrick Vulgamore
For the second year in a row, MaRyka Smith, KAMS senior out of Hoyt, Kansas, was selected to attend the Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. On Wednesday, February 11, Smith and four others represented Fort Hays State University in Topeka by presenting their respective research.
Smith’s research project, entitled “Myth Vs. Fact: Misconceptions Between Consumers and Midwestern Producers,” compares the average person’s knowledge of animal agriculture to that of someone with a background in agriculture.
“Out of the 180 respondents to my survey, about half had backgrounds in agriculture,” said Smith. “I then compared the percent correct from each group and found a significant statistical difference in knowledge of animal agriculture.”
Smith’s data indicated a startling lack of agricultural knowledge among average people. She found that some of the respondents believed even the most shocking myths, such as this particularly disturbing idea surrounding chocolate milk.
“It’s frustrating to see how some people believe ridiculous misconceptions,” Smith said, “like that chocolate milk contains chocolate only to hide blood in the milk. Some people actually believe that.
”It is only natural that Smith chose this topic to research, as she grew up in rural Hoyt, tending horses and actively participating in 4-H.
“Agriculture and food sustainability are all very important to me, and it’s sad when I see people on social media with huge misconceptions about agriculture.”
This is not the first time Smith has participated in Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. Last year, she presented her research on the correlation between the grasslands of the Sierra Nevada ecoregion and the rising number of California mustangs. Her research earned third place at the State Science Fair, which she plans to revisit this year with her new research.
As a student of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Smith has a bright future ahead of her. She has already been accepted to Kansas State University, where she will complete her prerequisites for veterinary school in just one year.
“I recommend KAMS to all the underclassmen at my high school. The research opportunities alone will make getting into veterinary school that much easier.”
Only five students from each Kansas Board of Regents Institution can be accepted to the Research Day at the Capitol, and this year, three of FHSU’s candidates are in the KAMS program.
“I thought science fairs were just in the movies. Then I come to KAMS and get gold at regionals and third at state. And if not for KAMS, I wouldn’t have even been considered for the Research Day at the Capitol.”
Student from first class of KAMS finds success in the real world
As a member of the first ever class of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS) at Fort Hays State University, Seth Gooding is no stranger to success. His achievements display the program’s ability to find and challenge talented, motivated individuals, preparing them for even greater success after college.
In addition to being in the first class of KAMS, Gooding, who is twenty-one years old, will also be the first student from KAMS to enter a job in his field immediately after graduation, a huge achievement for both Gooding and the KAMS program.
Gooding began his higher education in August, 2009, after his high pre-ACT scores prompted a letter from the KAMS department. He attended an information session soon after in Wichita, KS, with KAMS director Ron Keller, which piqued his interest in KAMS and ultimately led to his attendance.
“The biggest thing I’ve talked about in interviews,” said Gooding, “was starting college when I was sixteen. It’s probably the biggest eye-catcher on my résumé.”
While in KAMS, Gooding took nineteen or more credit hours of college courses each semester, which simultaneously contributed to his high school and college degrees, and he spent most of his time researching biochemistry with a chemistry professor. He was also president of the Chemistry Club, as well as an active member of the Astronomy Club.
“If I had to go back and do it again, I would,” said Gooding
Gooding will graduate this May with a Bachelors of Science in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry.
After graduation, Gooding will be working for the newly merged Nalco Champion, an Ecolab company that specializes in providing chemistry programs for oil and gas operations. He will work as service representative/consultant in the oil fields of North Dakota.
“In ten years,” said Gooding, “I can see myself holding a respectable management position in a chemical company, and this job is the perfect way to get my foot in the door.”
FHSU is proud to see a student from its first class of KAMS succeeding in the real world.
“It was great to be surrounded by people as motivated as me in KAMS,” said Gooding. “It was cool to have a community of like-minded individuals, because I don’t think I could have done it alone.”
KAMS Alumna attains Bachelors of Science at 19
Elsie Suhr, an animal science major from Sabetha, Kans. is receiving her Bachelors of Science degree from Kansas State University at the early age of nineteen.
Ever since her pursuit of higher education began when she was sixteen, Suhr has had a very active life. She entered into the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS) in 2010, which allowed her to take college-level courses at Fort Hays State University while in high school, simultaneously contributing to her high school and college degrees.
“KAMS prepared me for Kansas State better than anything else,” said Suhr. “I think the toughest classes I’ve taken in my college career have been during KAMS.”
While in KAMS, Suhr was an FHSU VIP ambassador and a member of the honor society. She was also involved in FFA, or Future Farmers of America, indicating an early interest in agricultural science.
Suhr attended the American Association of Cereal Chemists conference in the fall of 2011 in Palm Springs California to network for a non-profit organization called Grains of Hope, which specializes in providing food aid to areas in need, such as Haiti or Mozambique.
At the same time, Suhr was conducting research on different methods of drying foods for Mozambique’s wet season, looking at oven drying, infra-red drying, or even solar drying as options.
During her time at Kansas State, Suhr was an officer in the Alpha Clovia Scholarship house. She is also a part of the Kansas State Meat Judging Team, which has given her the chance to travel to Texas, New York and even Australia where the team took first place in the competition.
Suhr has been accepted into to the early-entry Masters program at Kansas State, and she will begin her study of veterinary biomedical science this August.
“KAMS really taught me how to focus on schoolwork and still balance other things,” said Suhr. “I feel like I’m ready for any class the teachers can throw at me.”
KAMS composition class stirs Oakley Conference with class project.
The Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science has a reputation for inspired students. Fort Hays State University English professor Linda Smith and her composition class of all KAMS students epitomize the Academy’s high standard of achievement.
After an intensive feasibility study, orchestrated by Smith and carried out by the students in their first semester, the class found that the resources and time of gifted facilitators, who travel from school to school to aid in gifted education, were highly limited. “The worst-case scenario I’ve seen,” said Smith, “is a gifted facilitator available to work with a gifted student for only thirty minutes, once a week because either the travel time is prohibitive, or the schools don’t have the staff.”
The students’ personal experiences were consistent with their findings. “We weren’t being challenged,” said Tammy Nguyen, KAMS junior. “Typically, gifted programs are supposed to help highly motivated students who need a challenge, and we found that a lot of us didn’t have a gifted program that worked.”
Hoping to assist gifted educators in the gifted learning environment, the KAMS students created the Kansas Gifted Education Database (KGED). “The website is basically a database for gifted facilitators and gifted students to access some resources we thought would help their education and academics,” said Nguyen.
The KGED itself is easy to navigate. After specifying if you are a gifted student, gifted teacher, or the parent of a gifted student, you can select any category of study, such as mathematics or English, and you are taken to a series of websites with the appropriate learning activities or programs.
“One thing educators can do,” said Smith, “is go to this repository of the best resources, select what they need, and then complement or augment what they can do with their gifted students.”
The KAMS students have also included videos documenting their own experiences with high school education.
The KAMS Project for Gifted Education began with an intensive feasibility study in their composition class, orchestrated by Professor Smith and carried out by the students in their first semester, after which they obtained a Dane G. Hansen grant for the development of the KGED.
The students then divided into four groups, each with specific areas of focus, and set to work on the website’s completion. The task was made more difficult, however, as the students were still required to complete their composition coursework on top of the project.
On April 10, with the help of gifted facilitator Valarie Brown-Kuchar from the Northwest Kansas Educational Service Center, the students were able to debut the website at the KAMS Rural Gifted Forum in Oakley, KS. The presentation was well-received by the room-full of gifted teachers, and was immediately followed by a multitude of eager questions from those excited about the future of the project.
“I wasn’t sure if the website was ready to be presented to so many important people,” said Nguyen,” but the fact that they all responded positively and are excited about what we’re doing is really amazing.”
The KAMS students have also been invited to present their work at the North-central Kansas Educational Service Center in Philipsburg on May 2, as well as at a Kansas Gifted and Talented Consortium Summer Seminar in Hays this fall.
The work of these KAMS students brings hope to gifted programs in the future. “A lot of us feel an emotional connection with the project,” said Kayce Feldkamp, another KAMS junior and Communications Coordinator. “We didn’t feel like we got the education we should have, which was upsetting.”
Four teams of KAMS students comprised the project work-force: Web Design, with Yeong Su Han (South Korea), Gregory Kenyon (Topeka), and Cooper Cummings (Derby)—Photo/Video, with Addison Townsley (Haysville), Lucas Barnes (Topeka), and Victor Wang (China)—Outreach, with Tammy Nguyen (Russell), Adan Rosales (Liberal), and Noah Stapleton (Wichita)—and Research, with Logan Heinrichs (Ulysses) and Kayce Feldkamp (Seneca).
You can visit the KGED at kged.weebly.com. See the product of these talented young KAMS students’ hard work as they continue to make outstanding achievements in a college environment at Fort Hays State University.
Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science student Brad Leupold to attend exclusive University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
Fort Hays State University KAMS senior Bradley Leupold from Hiawatha, KS was selected from a large pool of students for the six-year baccalaureate/medical degree program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.
The program gives students the opportunity to acquire a medical degree in six years rather than the usual eight. The students learn from trained professionals in a clinical setting, giving them the chance to interact with real-world patients in real-world situations.
“KAMS has given me a head start in my classes,” said Leupold. “Instead of taking 20-22 hours a semester, I’ll be more in the 16-18 hour range.”
The B.A./M.D. Program recruits from over 1000 student applicants, and the council selects 320 applicants to interview. Leupold submitted his application in November, and his interview took place in February. He is now 1 of the total 115 selected for the program.
“If I had not been a part of KAMS,” said Leupold, “I feel like they would have just glanced over my application.”
Leupold will begin his coursework in the fall semester of 2014 as a student of medicine. He is currently interested in oncology, but does not want to limit himself to any specific field at this point in his education.
KAMS alumna attains Chicago fellowship in medical physics
The Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS) excels at preparing students for challenging future opportunities. Nyasha Maforo, a former KAMS student at the end of her second year at Fort Hays State University, has been accepted into an exclusive fellowship, sponsored by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), which will take place at the University of Chicago.
This summer, Maforo will partner with a medical physicist to study and research breast cancer over a 10 week period. It will give her the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professional in her field of choice.
“This fellowship should be able to answer some of my questions and help direct me where to go in the field of medical physics,” said Maforo.
The amount of students accepted to the fellowship is very small, with 6 in 2013, and only 2 in 2012. The application process required three recommendations, which she received from (). Because of her previous attendance at KAMS, Maforo was able to talk more about her college experience in her application.
“Going through KAMS opened a lot of doors,” said Maforo. “I gained discipline and learned how to study. It gave me an edge over the other students.”