University of Southern California

QuikSCience Catalina Expedition 2012

Daily blog of
the Catalina Expedition:
USC Wrigley Marine Science Center, Catalina Island
June 2012

SMASH (Santa Monica Alternative School House)
June 4 to June 11, 2012
and
St. Margaret's Episcopal School
June 8 to June 11, 2012


Day One – Monday, June 4, 2012

SMASH Team
SMASH – STEELHEAD TEAM

Devin
Devin—My third trip to Catalina has been amazing so far. I had to get up extremely early and was so excited when we boarded Miss Christi. The boat ride went pretty quick and after we had settled into our rooms, we toured the portion of the island we were staying on, looking at surrounding labs and exploring the touch tanks where we kissed the sea cucumbers for good luck. A little while later we went on our first snorkel of the week. We saw so many different marine species! After this we learned how to do algae pressing with watercolors. This part was really fun! After this we relaxed with a fun game of volleyball and finished the day off with watching the sun set on the horizon. Overall, today was extremely amazing and I’m sure tomorrow will be as well.

Fiona
Fiona—Today was so amazing!!!  It started out with an early car drive to the San Pedro port.  We left on the Miss Christi boat and we actually got to see the S.S. Iowa battleship boat when we left.  When we got to the island, we unpacked and got settled.  After that we toured around the whole Wrigley campus.  It was really amazing to see all of the marine science and research going on.  After lunch we went for a snorkel.  The water was very, very cold, but it was well worth it considering all the animals we saw.  That was the first time that I have ever seen a wild lobster!!  Another highlight of today was algae pressing.  It was really nice to relax and have some time to do arts and crafts.  I loved seeing how creative everyone got with their algae projects.  I can’t wait for the adventures that tomorrow will bring!

Kayla
Kayla—When we were boarding the boat at the WMSC this morning, I still couldn’t believe that we were actually going to be in Catalina for eight days.  When we arrived in Catalina an hour and a half later I was still amazed. I had so much fun!  We went up to our rooms and chilled for a little while. After our orientation and lunch we finally got to snorkel where we explored the cave by the shore and saw tons of kelp bass (big brown spotted fish) by the dock.  When we were in the water, Devin and I had a little dilemma where she grabbed on to my shoulder to stand up and then I fell, causing her to fall and so on.  Neither of us could control ourselves! Later we did algae pressing and it was really fun.  Then there was a really good Italian dinner (the food is fantastic) and then we played volleyball.  Lastly, the part that is the highlight of my day, is the part where just the five of us went down to the dock and did a photo shoot. The day was really fun!

Maya
Maya—First of all leaving my mom for eight days was kind of a shocker… crying was obviously wasn’t an option in front of my friends, but sadness was okay. But even though I was sad, the boat ride was sooo much fun! So I decided thinking happy thoughts. Snorkeling, kayaking, and SWIMMING! We got to our rooms and I immediately started to un-pack. Messy was not an option. Then we went to the dining hall and talked about our schedule for the week. The excitement for snorkeling was bubbling inside of me already. We had a short tour of the campus (with the awesome D.J. and the just over all awesome Terri) then we had a great lunch of macaroni and cheese (Devin’s request) and chicken and salad. Then it was time for SNORKELING! OMG… I was soooooooo excited and I actually had so much fun. We went in a cave, under the little dock and through the kelp. The sights were amazing and the water was amazingly clear and blue. Afterwards we did awesome algae pressing and I made something for my grandparents. Afterwards we went to play volleyball and a fun photo shoot! AWESOME, AMAZING, COOL.

Naomi
Naomi—I was so excited to visit Catalina Island for my third time. I had been anticipating this morning for months, and I couldn’t believe the day had finally come! As I drove to the dock, the excitement grew and grew. Finally we arrived, boarded the boat, and we’re off. Finally, the island came into view and we rushed off to begin our trip. Snorkeling on Catalina is always a highlight, as it was today. I also got to try a new activity called algae pressing. We were able to make beautiful designs using different types of algae, and I can’t wait to see the final product! Today was an amazing day, and I can’t wait to continue my experience here!

Kurt
Kurt Holland, QuikSCience Advisor—Under a slate grey sky we sailed on the fine vessel Miss Christi to the lovely burnt sienna shores of Catalina. Only 26 nautical miles, but another world of bio-diverse bays, house free hillsides, and quiet pathways that lead to inspiring views. The island is home to island foxes, bison, and underwater gardens that delight a snorkeler’s eye. After depositing us on the dock at USC”s Wrigley Science Center, the Miss Christi roared away leaving us to the quiet of the island and the few researchers who enjoy a career on the island. Our accommodations exceeded the expectations to our lovable SMASHites, accustomed as they are to campsites and hiking to the bathrooms on school trips, and gleeful squeals soon cannonaded about the quad announcing our arrival. In very short order, eight armed men and women showed up and I started thinking” wow, USC is stricter then me” but they proved to be the diving team for the Los Angeles police department.  Much more occurred as you have read, so now we sleep, or at least I do.  As for the QuikSCience student scientists this may be a long night…

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Day Two – Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Road trip to Avalon, via Airport in the Sky, a journey to the other side of the island

Group2

Devin
Devin—Today was really fun! I feel as if I have been on Catalina for weeks, even though it has only been two days. In the morning we all boarded the van and set off to Avalon. The ride included several encounters with bison and deer, and we practiced our presentation to the local Avalon 7th grade class. After admiring the beautiful scenery, we drove to the class where our lesson was going to be taught. I thought we did a pretty good job and all the students seemed interested in joining the QuikSCience competition next year.  We drove to the waters edge and got on stand-up paddleboards and a glass-bottom kayak. To finish the day, we walked around, explored Avalon, and we stopped at a beautiful Italian restaurant on the water. My favorite part of the day had to be when we napped in the car on the way home. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow!!!

Fiona
Fiona—Today was so amazing!  I had such a wonderful time in all of our adventures in Avalon.  We gave a quick presentation to the 7th grade students and they had some great ideas for projects to submit, which was really exciting!  After the presentation, we went to the Wrigley Memorial Botanical Garden to have lunch.  I really liked the wonderful views from the top and the escape from the city.  My favorite part of the day was when we rented stand-up paddleboards and a glass-bottom kayak and toured around the cove.  I loved seeing all of the many fish and kelp species under the water below us.  I really enjoyed seeing the many boats coming in and out of the harbor.  On the way back home, we saw many deer, bison, and island foxes.  I really enjoyed this day and I’m looking forward to everything else we are doing this week!

Maya
Maya—Today I had so much fun, but I also learned that kayaking is kinda hard.  On the way to Avalon we practiced a presentation and it went pretty well. We talked about what QuikSCience is and what our project was about.  Then we drove to a beautiful garden where we had lunch and then we went kayaking and standup paddle boarding. It was amazing!  I had so much fun and I saw so many beautiful fish and plants. Then we had to choose between snorkeling and shopping, so we obviously choose SHOPPIING. We found that a lot of the stores have their prices pretty high. Then we took a walk to the casino point and did a little sightseeing.  We drove back to Wrigley and saw foxes, bison, and deer.

Naomi
Naomi—Today I got to go stand-up paddleboarding (SUPing) for the second time. This time was especially fun and unique because I was SUPing in the beautiful, clear water in Avalon, on Catalina Island.  It was a challenge to stay upright with all the waves, but I think it made it even more fun! I also enjoyed looking at the Garabaldi through the amazingly clear water. About half way through our SUPing experience we decided to jump in the water for a swim. At first I thought it would be too cold, but I am so happy that I did it. The water felt so refreshing, and although it was a bit chilly, the sun warmed me up. Once we reached the dock, we decided to jump in one more time, but it ended up being more like three times, because we all pushed each other in.  I wish we could have had even more time to SUP, but I’m so happy we got to do this amazing activity on this amazing island!

Kayla
Kayla—This was the second day of our trip in Catalina and we went to Avalon.  When we arrived there we did a presentation to middle school students and we talked about QuikSCience and Steelhead Trout.  After we had lunch at the botanical gardens. Then we went SUPing (stand-up paddleboarding) near the dock in Avalon Bay.  Next we took an “architectural tour” and of course there was a very interesting dinner after the long day.  On the ride back we spotted some bison fighting.  It was so cool.  We had an awesome day exploring Avalon and watching fights between wild animals.

Kurt
Kurt—Terrific Terri traversed the interior of Santa Catalina today as she navigated us over hills, through swales, across beaches and to the lovely steep-sided town of Avalon. Like the Arthurian Avalon of long lingering legend, this village is filled with a wide variety of scallywags, sojourners, and scoundrels. Given my current status as a part-time parent, I found myself preferring the animal companionship of the bovine bison, fine and numerous foxes, and harbor seals we also met today to the assortment of potential human villains. But the character of Team Steelhead asserted itself, saved the day, and we made our way through the dark forest to the luminous water’s edge where our only challenge was limited balancing skills. SUPs are fine vehicles for peering deep into the kelp forest and great quantities of fish swam about in their cold aquaria providing a fine finny display.  It was an outstanding activity created for us by Terri’s flexibility and consistent dedication to our team’s welfare and learning. QS is a program with many bright stars and Terri shines in the first magnitude.

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Day Three – Wednesday, June 6, 2012
USC Wrigley Marine Science Center
Kayaking, Dock jumping, Rope tying, Navigation on the Miss Christi, Sushi rolling and Plankton Lab (day and night samples!)

Kurt
Kurt—Look! From the dock, we were amazed to see in the shadows of the lava flow an image of Catalina Island….projecting just beyond the dock!  We enjoyed a different sort of day today as the pace slowed and everyone got to take a breath and relish our sublime surroundings. After a morning of kayaking, swimming, knot tying, and a navigation briefing aboard Miss Christi, we all welcomed a period of choice time to relax, sleep, swim or snorkel. Everyone was able to catch up on rest and prepare for the big days to come.  Our kayaking featured a thrilling transit of Blue Cavern where we surfed into and through a long narrow cave and around a corner alongside a cobblestone beach. Offshore a brigantine from Los Angeles Maritime Association heaved too and was lowering a boat to join us. We felt seriously nimble compared to the large sailing ship as we darted about in our swift kayaks. I snorkeled for over two hours in the azure blue waters of Big Fisherman’s Cove. Subsequently, I ascended the ridge above campus and enjoyed views over to the Palos Verdes and Long Beach.  As I write we are enjoying a lively conversation about Latin naming conventions as we work with samples from a plankton tow.  Thursday we sally forth to the boy-scout camp at Emerald Bay for nature study and the girls have volunteered to wear horrible, ugly, old clothes/swimming suits so that the focus remains on science. This laudable dedication to education is somewhat suspect, but for now, I am taking them at their word. Time will tell…

Fiona
Fiona—Today started out with a really beautiful kayak to Blue Caverns.  I really enjoyed going through the cave and when I got out there was a harbor seal 10 feet away from me!!  After the kayak, we did some nautical knot tying.  That was a really nice chance to relax while also learning something new.  Lunch followed the knot tying, and after that we came down to the dock again, this time to check out the navigation system on the Miss Christi.  The captain explained how the technology has evolved over time and he showed us the many systems used on the boat.  Shortly after this, we towed some plankton to use later in the day.  Then, after a nice dunk in the water, we started to roll sushi.  I have never done that before and I really enjoyed it!  We rolled avocado, cucumber, carrot, tofu, and much more!  After that, we headed to the lab to look at the plankton we had towed earlier.  We saw sooooo many different species of plankton and soon we will tow again in the night!  I’m very excited for tomorrow’s adventure into Emerald Bay!!!

Naomi
Naomi—Today was another amazing day in Catalina. We began our day with a kayak to Blue Caverns. The kayak ride was beautiful. It’s always fun to get to experience the beautiful island from the water, and kayaking is a perfect way to do this. As we got closer to the cave, I got even more excited. When we finally reached the opening of the cave, we all headed in one at a time. It was so cool to go through by myself. At the very end we had to make a really sharp left, and I worried I would crash, but fortunately I didn’t. Once out of the cave, we got to kayak right next to a harbor seal, which was also really exciting. After our kayak we got to do some free swimming in the beautiful water. Next, we got to learn about knot tying and it was really cool to learn these new ways to tie rope/line. Lastly, we got to make some delicious sushi. It was so much fun to learn more about sushi making, as well as eating it. Today was packed with amazing activities!

Maya
Maya—Today was another awesome day in Catalina! We started with kayaking to blue cavern and we went all the way through! It was kind of scary and dark, but sooo much fun! Then right outside of the cavern we saw a cute sea lion and it was staring at me while sun bathing on a rock. Then after the exhausting arm work out of the kayaking we started jumping of the dock and swimming around. Then we went to have a nice healthy lunch of a salad. Then after wards we got changed and went on Miss Christi and the captain taught us about the radar and mapping of the ocean, the navigation and how it works, and a little on the boat controls. Then we did a short plankton tow. Afterwards we had really fun sushi making with avocado, salmon, carrots, and crab. Yummy! Then we had small dinner and then we observed the plankton.

Kayla
Kayla—Today we had a relaxing day at WMSC. In the morning we kayaked to Blue Caverns, which was really fun. When we got backed, we jumped in the water and did some knot tying with Kurt, which was cool.  We had salad for lunch and then we learned about navigation with Captain Gord on the Miss Christi.  We learned about the radars and radios that boats use today.  Then we did a plankton tow and played in the ocean some more.  Then there was a sushi making workshop, a short dinner, visiting the touch tanks, and now I’m sitting in a teaching lab studying plankton.  We had a very fun and relaxing day.

Devin
Devin—Today we did many amazing activities! We started the day off with a morning kayak to the blue caverns. As we ventured closer I could feel my self becoming more and more excited. When we went into the cave, we went through extremely carefully to make sure our kayaks were not destroyed by the surrounding rocks. After making it out of the nearly pitch black cave I spotted a harbor seal snoozing on a rock just out side the cave exit. Towards the middle of the day we used plankton tows to get water samples. After this we did numerous things on the dock that included me taking a nap with a bucket over my head as protection from the sun and the group doing various jumps/dives/leaps into the water. Right before lunch Kurt taught us different techniques on how to do knot tying, just in case of emergency. We were taught about navigation by the boat caption and then made a delicious sushi snack. To end the day we looked at our findings from the plankton tow. It was really amazing to look at everything under the microscopes! I can’t wait for tomorrow!

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Day Four – Thursday, June 7, 2012
Team Steelhead visits Pennington Marine Science Center at Camp Emerald Bay, hikes to Parsons Landing, snorkels at Dr.’s Cove, looks at sand in the lab, and a star party with a giant USC telescope!

Naomi
Naomi–Today we visited Emerald Bay, where a Boy Scouts Camp is located, and we were warmly greeted by one of the counselors, Kristine. She took us to the touch tanks and aquarium and we got to learn about more marine animals. Some of these animals included Sharks, Squids, Sea Stars, and Abalone. We then got to use their archery range, which we were extremely happy about. I need to work on my aim but I had so much fun. We also went on a pretty short hike to Parson’s Landing, a beautiful beach where we ate lunch and sketched some pictures of the amazing scenery surrounding us. As the sun beat down on us on our hike back, we all became even more anxious to jump in the water for a snorkel. Most of us decided to not use our wetsuits, so the water was very cold. It was really cool to snorkel in a new place, and to compare some of the differences and similarities. One of the most exciting parts of the snorkel was when I saw a 5-foot Leopard Shark. Right as I saw it, I felt Fiona tap my shoulder. We looked at each other with the same look on our faces, of excitement, nervousness, and surprise. We both raced back to the shore quickly. Today was a really amazing day. The weather was perfect and the water was so clear. I had so much fun today.

Fiona
Fiona–Today was definitely one of my favorite days. We started the day with a really cool visit to the marine lab.  They had all kinds of marine animals, such as squids, sharks, rays, and many, many fish.  We went on a hike and I really enjoyed sitting on the rocks there and enjoyed the view.  The snorkeling was my absolute favorite part of the day.  We swam at an amazing point, with many different animals.  I saw sooooo many fish.  Naomi and I swam over a clear spot in the kelp and both were very lucky to have looked down at the same moment because a 5-foot Leopard Shark was swimming right below us.  We both looked at each other and swam as fast as we could towards the shore and started laughing really hard.  That was the first time I have ever seen that big of a shark in the wild.  I really, really enjoyed today and will remember it forever!

Kayla
Kayla–Today we went to a Boy Scout camp in Emerald Bay and went to the camp’s aquarium where we visited touch tanks, pet some sharks, and learned about different ocean zones.  Then we walked over to an archery range and learned how to use a bow and arrow to shot some targets, which I found really fun.  I wasn’t doing very well at first, but when I remembered a technique that my mom told me (to exhale right before you shoot), and then I got better.  On the last arrow of the first round, I didn’t make the paper target, but I shot the arrow perfectly at the foam backstop.  I was proud of myself at that time.  I found that I like to do archery, however, I’m no Katniss. 

Emerald Bay
Kurt–Warm sun, clear water, calm breezes, and the fine company of Team Steelhead and our duo of Catalina Queens made for a day of Catalina perfection today. As we made our way to Emerald Bay Boy Scout Camp, I was awash in anticipation and eager to leap into the brilliant water that lay along our route. From the vertiginous road, switch backing its way to the West End, I was able to spot fish in the water 100 ft below. I knew too that we were experiencing a rare period of June sun and that the combination of clear skies, warm air temperatures, and cold spring water temperatures would result in abundant kelp forests full of finny friends. Finally, I was elated when we arrived at the camp to find it largely empty of boy scouts. Upon arrival we enjoyed a fine tour of the marine science center and met our guide for the day, a young counselor for the camp named Katherine, who proved to be a thoughtful and cheerful companion as she walked us to Parson’s Landing and subsequently life guarded for us as we snorkeled.  Our girls were toasty after the hike in the salubrious sun and dove headlong into ocean sans wetsuits, an understandable decision they soon came to regret. Some hot chocolate, two fox sightings, and cookies later, however, spirits had rebounded and the cold of the Pacific was soon just a memory. The sun has faded and our day is now concluding as the girls practice swiveling and elevating a computerized telescope while guided by a graduate astrophysicist from USC, named Jenn. It has been a fun, engaging, and lovely day. Education as it should be, outside, based in the natural world, and conveyed as a gift. Really lovely.

Maya
Maya–Today was a long, tiring, awesome, and fun day!  We started off by making our lunches, and then we were off to Emerald bay! Our guide, Katharine, showed us the Pennington Marine Science Center and then the camp. Then we went on a hike to Parsons Landing, which was a beautiful beach. We had lunch there and then sketched what we saw. Then we hiked back, changed into bathing suits, and got in the water with our snorkels, and flippers. I had an amazing time studying the fish and creatures and swimming like one too. Back at W.M.S.C. we blogged, did knot-tying, and sand samples, were we looked at the samples and made little sand cards. Then we went to the star party were Jenny showed us Saturn and a bunch of stars.

Devin
Devin–Today was really fun!!! We set out for Emerald bay where we visited the touch tanks, did archery (this was my favorite part) and hiked up to Parson’s landing where we enjoyed our chips and sandwiches. After this we decided to go on a snorkel. Despite the coldness and large amount of jellyfish in the water the snorkel was amazing. However I was so cold I decided to get out early and collect shells from the rock filled beach. On the way back to the van we saw an island fox, who we identified to be on the older side.  We finished the day off with a night under the stars using a telescope and examined different stars and planets including Vega, Mars, Myzar, and Saturn. It was really amazing to get to see Saturn’s surrounding rings. Overall the day was really amazing and educational.

PMSC

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Day Five – Friday, June 8, 2012
USC Wrigley Marine Science Center
SMASH Team Steelhead and St. Margaret's Team Robot and Team Surfboard

A day at WMSC Kayaking, enjoying USC graduate presentations, snorkeling, volleyball, soccer, plankton lab, fish printing, bioluminescence and Catalina videos!

Kayla
Kayla–This morning we went to Bird Rock for a bird survey, where we saw a lot of sea lions.  Then we watched a college presentation on human effects on ocean pollution in Avalon Bay and met the second place team during a fish identification.  We then taught the St. Margaret’s team how to use the plankton tow.  After, we finally got to snorkel, we saw so many leopard sharks and a giant bat ray.  Now, we are showing the other team how to use the microscopes for the plankton lab.

Maya
Maya–Today we started by going to bird rock. We kayaked out and did a survey on how many birds and sea lions. Then on the way back we saw the second place team on a boat and then we said hi and greeted each other. Then we went to a presentation from the U.S.C. students and that was really great. Then we went for a snorkel and swam with the Leapord sharks, fish, and bat rays. Then we took the plankton we collected earlier and we showed the boys how to look at plankton in the microscope. Then we had a game of volleyball and soccer.

Fiona
Fiona–Today, we started with a really cool kayak to bird rock.  We saw a ton of sea lions, which was really cool.  After that, we were introduced to the other team and watched presentations from the students here.  Then we towed for plankton and hopped in the water for a snorkel.  I really enjoyed seeing all of the Leopard Sharks swimming below us.  When we finished the snorkel we went to the lab to look at the plankton we had collected.  After, we did fish printing.  I had a really fun time today and I’m looking forward to the night snorkel tomorrow!

Devin
Devin–Today was a very amazing but busy day. The day started with an early morning kayak to bird rock. This was really fun because we got to be just a few feet away from an adorable newborn sea lion. After being introduced to the other team we went on a snorkel. I would have to say that this was my favorite snorkel yet, mainly because we got to see 6 foot leopard sharks and huge bat rays. We then did an afternoon game of boys vs. girls soccer, which was really fun. Finally, to end the day we did fish printing. I would probably have to pick today as my favorite day so far. I can’t wait for the night snorkel tomorrow!

Naomi
Naomi–Today was a very busy day, filled with many fun activities, and I think my favorite part was our snorkel. Today we got to snorkel around the Wrigley Marine Science Center, and it was so much fun. We got to see even more fish, kelp, and algae. It was sunny and the water was gorgeous! The best part of the snorkel was probably getting to see Leapord Sharks. There were so many, and they were swimming all around us. Some were pretty small, while others were up to 6 feet tall! We also got to see a couple of Bat Rays! Today’s snorkel was a blast!

Kurt
Kurt–Our lovely students enjoyed learning rough water kayaking with a gusty wind and 3-4 foot wind waves creating a lively roller coaster ride. The Miss Christi arrived bearing the second place team from Saint Margaret’s consisting of five delightful boys. The projects that they created for the competition are really interesting with one being an oil-skimming robot and the other was surfboard construction from recycled Styrofoam. The boy’s explanations of their projects were detailed and interesting. As I write, both teams are creating fish prints on t-shirts.

 

Meet the St. Margaret’s Teams!
Winning second place in the QuikSCience Challenge 2012

Group

Colby
Colby–Every moment, from the point when I was nearly yelling at my dad because we were going to miss the boat, to now, when I am covered in a mess of paint from out fish printing activity, was pitch-perfect. If there was one thing I had to do one thing over again, it would be the day snorkel, maybe the cave. It looked like something out of a movie, haunting and beckoning. The mouth was kind of intimidating, but we finally went in. Leading the way, we had to go single-file along the barnacle filled dark cavern. We shuffled through and eventually we were surrounded by what seemed to be an eternal darkness. It was one experience I won’t forget and I can’t wait to go in there again. But next time I’ll bring a flashlight. It was a fun day and I can’t wait to continue on our Catalina adventure!

Jack
Jack–Today was our first day on Catalina. Right after we got off the boat, we met the 1st place team, who was already there. I think that the snorkel was my favorite part of the day, and the best part of that was snorkeling in the cave. Right outside, the cave seemed to be connected out back, but as Colby led the way, I followed him in. It was pitch black and very sharp and vicious because of the barnacles. Finally, we reached an end, and turned back. There was a narrow shaft of light that hit us, and illuminated the water. It seemed just like the ending to a boat-sinking movie, such as Titanic. We saw kelp fish/bass, garibaldi, opal-eyes, and many other underwater organisms. It was actually pretty sunny, and the water was also pretty warm, but the visibility was just a little cloudy. After that, we played some boys VS. girls soccer. I thought it was quite interesting, to say the least. I had some interesting memories from that game. Finally, we are doing fish printing, and I can’t wait for our activities tomorrow!

Grant
Grant–After my first day at Catalina, I’m exhausted.  I had so much fun today from when I got off the boat.  My favorite part was snorkeling since I went inside a cave.  It was dark in there and the walls were closing in with the barnacles attached to them.  Also, I saw a lobster, had sharks circle around me, and saw a hidden bat ray floating just above the sand. The weather was nice since it was sunny and windy.  Later, we all played soccer, it was boys vs. Girls.  It ended up in a tie though.  It was a fun day.

Charlie
Charlie–For our first day on Catalina we arrived and went to see a group of college students show off their experiment. After that we went snorkeling. We went into a very crowded cave, at the time we (or at least I) did not know that we were going to reach a dead end, but we did, and we ended up having to turn back. It was an amazing view looking out of the cave. We also looked through microscopes at specimens from the ocean. I got a very interesting look at what looked like a mini jellyfish, but turned out to be molt from a barnacle claw, or foot. I did not even know that barnacles had claws!

Dev
Dev–For my first day at the Wrigley Institute, it was overwhelming. I learned about how people in Catalina are polluting the sea and how we can stop it. We then ate lunch and went snorkeling. We went into what seemed like a never-ending cave. The cave was pitch black. There were a bunch of pointy barnacles on the walls of the cave. They felt hard and like a billion of nails were scratching you. We then played soccer during our free time. It was a very good match. It was boys vs. girls. The game sadly, was a tie, but we all were happy to play and have fun together.

Kai
Kai (2nd, grade, 8 years old)–I liked the snorkeling. The animals I saw were big. I saw garibaldi fish, kelp bass, leopard sharks and bat rays. I also saw many little fish under the dock. I was scared seeing the sharks but got used to it. My dad, Anand, was the USC mentor for the SMASH QuikSCience Teams.

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Day Six – Saturday, June 9, 2012
Visit to Two Harbors mud flats and hike the ridge trail, rock geology, soapstone carving, entomology lab, QuikSCience presentations, and a night snorkel to top it all off!

Devin
Devin–If I had to choose my favorite part of the day, I couldn’t! Today was so amazing! My top three favorite parts consisted of our trip to the mud flats, our bug catching expedition, and the amazing night snorkel.  The mud flats were so cool! I really enjoyed getting to see all the organisms and marine life living beneath our feet. Insect catching was also really fun! Fiona and I caught a huge black bee and were running through the grass posing with our nets. Lastly, the night snorkel was so cool. After seeing bioluminescence last year it was so stunning to get to see it again. Maya, Jack, Dev and I also spotted a moray eel, a shovelnose guitarfish, a horn shark, a leopard shark and about 100 different lobsters. Overall, both day and night were amazing today!

Kayla
Kayla–Today we went to the mudflats, which was cool and very muddy.  After, we went and took a hike in the Ironwoods.  When we got back we had lunch we did soapstone carving and a night snorkel.  These two were my most favorite parts of the day.  We did other things too, but I don’t have time to write them.

Naomi
Naomi–Today we got to explore the mud flats! It was so much fun to play in the in the mud, and we also got to learn a lot about this area of Catalina Island. It was really cool to see the different animals living in the mud! We found shrimp, worms, and snails. After this activity we got to take our second hike of the trip. There were some pretty steep hills. During the hike, we hiked ahead of the group up a pretty steep hill and when we finally reached the top, Kurt called us back and told us we had gone the wrong way! It was a beautiful hike, and I enjoyed it very much. I got to try a new activity! Today we tried soapstone carving. We had a mini class about geology, and then we got straight to carving. I picked my piece of stone, and decided to make a small cup/bowl. Thinking it wouldn’t be too hard, started rounding off the edges. I soon found how difficult it was to change a block of stone into a bowl. Although it was quite difficult, it was really fun! I can’t wait to finish it tomorrow, and to see how it turns out!

Fiona
Fiona–I would say that my favorite parts of today were soapstone carving and our night snorkel.  I started to carve a bowl I really enjoyed seeing what everyone was making and using all of the many different carving tools.  I also really loved the night snorkel and I saw many different animals such as kelp bass, moray eels, a leopard shark, a horn shark, and many lobsters.  I had an amazing time today with all of our many activities, and I am soo soo excited to see what tomorrow will bring!

Maya
Maya–Today was pretty cool, we started of with going to the mud flats to do some activities, like taking samples and looking at what kind of organisms were in there. Then we went on a hike to the Ironwoods. There, we practiced our presentations. And after dinner we had our real presentations to the other group. On our night snorkel it was amazing to see the moray eel and all the lobsters. And of course the Bioluminescence!

Jack
Jack–Out of all the interesting activities that we encountered today, I believe that the soapstone carving activity was probably the most thought-provoking. When I first started, I thought that hacking at a piece of soft-feeling stone would be really easy. But when I received my piece, and hearing that countless others from countless “generations” gave up with a few scratches as their only effort, I was still unfazed. I grabbed a rubber bat ray for a model. Two hours later, my piece of soapstone looked the same. I had used a drill, a saw, many little saws, and even an improvised hammer and nail railroad technique, and I had formed a pathetic little wing. At another angle, I found out that it looked like a boat, and turned it into that instead. However, I was still slightly excited, and am deciding to work on it tomorrow to finish it. This activity was actually quite fun. After that, we snorkeled at night. It was totally different in perspective while at night. Visibility and temperature were both decreased. I saw lobsters, worms, and even a moray eel!

Colby
Colby–I can’t say that I’m the most artistic person on our trip. When we got back we had a short geology lesson, and then we went back ad did soapstone carving. The ancient Indians of Catalina did it, and even though we had much more advanced tools, I can’t say ours looked much better. I ended up making a sea turtle out of soapstone and then waxed it. It looked pretty well in the end. I’d been night snorkeling once before, but this was with doctors and scientists and so on. The first thing we did was see a bright red lobster. We also caught sight of bat rays, sharks and an eel and the snorkel was ecstatic. Most fascinating of all was the bioluminescence. When it was completely dark, we would wave our hands and the bioluminescence would appear. It was thousands of tiny LED like lights, floating in the water. It’s the kind of thing you have to see for yourself.

Grant
Grant–Today’s adventure was amazing.  After breakfast, we got on the vans and headed for Two Harbors and went straight to the mud flats.  The mud was sticky and I had trouble moving once by the water, but I managed to get out of the sticky mess, it took a long time.  After the mud flats, we went on a hike.  During the hike, we saw several plants and flowers.  I had lots of fun.  Then we came back to the institute and did some soapstone carving.  I didn’t finish it, but I got some major progress on it and I will finish it tomorrow.

Charlie
Charlie–In today’s thrilling adventure of activities the first thing we did was go to the very muddy mud flats. In the picture you can see that the mud was very muddy and you would be able to sink your feet in it. Thank goodness I didn’t fall! I almost did! We found some very interesting creatures in the mud. My partner and I found two ghost shrimp that are usually white, but both of ours were pinkish and even red. I also found a HUGE ghost shrimp right before we were about to leave. Another activity we had in our thrilling agenda was the night snorkeling, which was really cool! We had little lights on our snorkel and one person in our group of two would have a flashlight, which was Grant. We turned off all of the lights and we were able to see bioluminescence under water. It looked like “pixie dust” we would say. We saw a great amount of lobster and rays that were pretty cool. It was pretty cold though. After that we had some hot coco and Jose’s famous chocolate cookies.

Dev
Dev–Our breakfast was amazing... waffles with bacon and sausage. After eating an amazing breakfast, we went to the mud flats. The mud flats had many fun animals. There were ghost shrimp, bloodworms, and crabs. My partner Devin and I found many animals and creatures during the excavation. After coming back from the mud flats, I carved soapstone. My carving was of a finger cast, but it is still a work in progress. I hope that tomorrow will be just as exiting as today.

Anand
Anand–A fantastic day of such diverse activities: that included a muddy sampling event, a hike to a rare grove of trees, a stone carving sculpture session and a night plunge in the cove. The looks on the little ones faces are incredible, as Mastercard would say “priceless!” I love the discovery process each one goes through especially throwing them in to a totally new and unique environment or activity, and all of them today were of this caliber. Today was a day for the books, many memories captured for life and on film too.

DJ
DJ–Hi Everyone in the blog-o-sphere! I’ve been out of commission for most of this week and it felt great to be able to get in the water for the night snorkel last night. My group with Naomi, Kayla, Grant, Charlie, and Lynn was great. We saw so many lobsters last night! I even managed to photograph a few. J This week has been so much fun with the Steelhead Trout girls and the St. Margaret’s boys. I really liked the archery at Emerald Bay Camp. I have made a lot of soapstone carvings and many cards during the fish printing. I miss everybody at home, but I am having a lot of fun here on the wonderful and beautiful Catalina, my other home!

Emma
Miss Emma Boyle–Our second day had a lot to live up to after such an incredible first day.  It definitely did not disappoint.  Terri, DJ, Lynn, and all of the other staff members have an excellent program in place for us.  Our two groups, 5 boys and 5 girls, are meshing well and it is really exciting to see.  Today’s highlight has got to be our trip out to the mud flats.  The kids broke into pairs and did some coring.  They worked so fabulously together!  Some of the finds included ghost shrimp, clams, and bloodworms.  It was slimy but so much fun!  Thank you!

Kurt
Kurt–What a gift working with these young scientists! I am relishing every moment. If every older person could see what these girls are capable of, few would worry about the lamentable state of the world. As world population soars past 8 billion, I feel especially fortunate that these special Steelheads have made their way to SMASH and into my classroom. The boys from Saint Margaret’s are also gems and the sight of the former competitors playing and collaborating on new discoveries was especially exciting for me to witness. They dug in the mud, now known as estuarine mudflat habitat, and found a cornucopia of interesting creatures while enjoying the oozing, sliming, slithery sensation of running their toes through the mud. In every case they had fun! After our sojourn to Cat Harbor we went for a hike, and I NAPPED while they made beautiful soapstone carvings. A fine day.

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Day Seven – Sunday, June 10, 2012
Kayaking to Two Harbors, beach day at Little Harbor, visiting the bald eagle and Catalina Island fox, dinner at the Airport in the Sky and volleyball at Two Harbors with a bonfire and s’mores!

Group

Emma
Miss Boyle–Day 3 totally did not disappoint!  Before we headed out on a tour of the island and a few hours of relaxing time at Little Harbor, the kids had a fabulous kayaking trip!  I stayed and watched from the dock and had a National Geographic moment.  All of a sudden I heard something large moving through the water around me.  I quickly looked and all I saw was ripples in the water.  I was intently looking at the water trying to figure out what it was when wooosh, WHAP!  A flying fish flew out of the water and hit the dock as a large sea lion came up out of the water and chomped down on the stunned fish!  It was incredible!  I watched this sea lion repeat the process a couple more times.  I would see the fish dart out of the water and hit a boat or part of the dock and then a second later, there was the sea lion, gobbling it up.  It was amazing to watch.  I will certainly remember that for the rest of my life!  Thank you for the adventure!  (photo by Dave Anderson)

Jack
Jack–Today we started off by having a nice kayak in the morning. We paddled around and saw a couple of harbor seals. Then, Charlie and I had a stone-throwing contest. After that, we paddled back and got on the bus. We drove for a long time to get to Little Harbor. My friends and I played some soccer on the beach, and then I had to finish my soapstone carving (it was a ray). After that, I hiked a little on the mountains near the sea. It was very beautiful, and I can always remember the sight of the white frothy sea shooting into two rocks, and then draining into a crevasse. Then, we drove to the Airport in the Sky and had dinner, stopping to see the Bald and Golden Eagles, and the Catalina Island fox. And even saw a bison!

Fiona
Fiona–Today was definitely one of my favorite days.  We started out with a kayak to Two Harbors.  I really enjoyed seeing the harbor seals along the way and looking at all the amazing shells on the beach.  In Little Harbor I had so much fun finishing my sandstone bowl and swimming in the amazing water.  We left Little Harbors, saw a fox exhibit, then an eagle exhibit, and then we drove to Airport in the Sky.  I really enjoyed the beautiful view from there.  After dinner, we went to Two Harbors for a really nice campfire.  I had sooooo much fun today and I’m sad that we need to leave tomorrow.

Colby
Colby–Today was a beach day. We had a ton of fun in the sand. Jack and I hiked up to the top of a cliff, and then down around the side into the tide pools.  We played a couple games of soccer on the sand and finally just sat and chilled. But the most interesting thing of the day was the kayaking. I kayaked with Kayla, and about half way through the kayaking trip, we fell behind the group. As we were drifting through the water, we saw a harbor seal only a couple feet from us. The seal was dipping in and out, elegantly. He was a dark blue, like the ocean and moved as one body. You could see that the fins were tucked in and his tail was propelling him forward. I’m incredibly sad we have to leave tomorrow, but I’ll make sure to enjoy the day.

Grant
Grant–This was a great day.  We started with a morning kayak and saw 11 harbor seals on the rocks.  Then we docked at a beach and had rock throwing contests.  Then we got ready to go to another beach for lunch and after we ate we had a huge soccer game.  I got a splinter from a rock on the beach and had to get tweezers to pull it out.  I also finished my soapstone carving.  Then we went to a fox exhibit and learned about them.  Then we went to an eagle exhibit and saw a golden and a bald eagle.  After we finished that, we headed toward the airport where we had dinner. This was a long and fun day.

Kurt
Kurt–As I contemplate leaving Catalina with its diverse natural joys, I am reminded of the many people who worked hard to make this happen. The workload of this project is significant, challenging, and fun for the organized amongst the population. Naturally, the seven girls themselves deserve the greatest thanks for getting us here, but the unsung heroes are the parents who labored mightily to support their student scientists while never crossing the line into doing the work for them.  A true partnership of parents, teachers, and hard working students created a special experience for us! Terrific Terri ,and her brethren at QuikSCience, labor consistently to make special things happen for many schools and meeting St. Margaret’s team proved intriguing and fun.

Devin
Devin–Today was so fun! I had so much fun hanging at the beach! The outing consisted of finishing our soapstone carvings, making lanyards, an ocean swim, some beach soccer and tanning in the sand. My favorite part had to be Fiona, Naomi, Maya and my swim in the water. More specifically, when we were all lounging on a rock about 20 feet from shore and a huge wave came and knocked everyone down except me. I also had a great time in the evening. Dinner was so much fun!!!  After dinner I had a great time playing keep away, volleyball, and eating s’mores. Overall, my second to last day on the island was so amazing.

Anand
Anand–The last full day of the trip did not disappoint. The morning started with a chilly but thrilling kayak from USC Wrigley Big Fisherman’s Cove to the town of Two Harbors.  Along the way we passed the resident colony of harbor seals that inhabit Chalk Cove. We beached the kayaks and checked out the rocks at the east end. The kayak back against a stiff breeze was hard, but a good workout, and a couple of seals came to greet us which is always fun for the kids. This was Layla’s favorite moment of the paddle and she cheered for a couple of minutes. After a quick change, we boarded Wrigley’s behemoth Bluebird bus to Little Harbor for lunch. The sun was out by now and this was a going to be a perfect afternoon of beach fun and exploring. Some kids decided to soapstone carve, others explored the amazing stone jetty that divided Little Harbor from Shark Harbor, and another bunch played on the beach. I love this spot!  Girls from SMASH were bold enough to get in to the water while the boys from St. Margaret’s played football (soccer) on the beach. Girls even clambered on to a rock in the cove. We had a great afternoon relaxing and all spending a little time doing different things, a fantastic afternoon. Dinner at the airport and S’mores at pit fire back at the Two Harbors closed the circle of the day activities. What a fabulous close to the weekend!

DJ
DJ–Sunday was sublime.  Little Harbor was a little piece of heaven. The kids got to play and carve soapstone as did I, and I made a few necklaces and bracelets out of rainbow string. Walking along the beach with Maya was great and we found so many bones and shells together. We then headed over to see Tachi, an island fox, where I got a really good picture of her 9-year-old face. And then I got a very well-composed photo of the bald eagle.  The S’mores in Two harbors were delicious!! J It’s been an amazing week with these QuikSCience winners and I am sad to see them go.  I know that we will keep in contact and that I have made some fabulous friends. Aloha, Everybody.

Naomi
Naomi–Today was definitely one of the most fun days for me! We started the day with a really fun kayak around the Wrigley Marine Institute. After our kayak we headed off for Little Harbor and ate our lunches at a campsite. We got to relax on this beautiful beach of Catalina and work on our soapstone carvings, which was also very fun. We played a little soccer, and laid in the sun until we were warm enough to jump in the water. As I ran into the beautiful ocean, I expected it to be freezing, but it was surprisingly warm. We dunked under and swam around for a while. We then decided to go sit on a rock in the ocean. The waves were so calm, but as the hit the rocks they sprayed up, threatening to push us off. Suddenly a powerful wave rushed at us and I fell off!  I looked up to see if everyone else had fallen, and Devin was the only one there.  She was grinning ear to ear, and although I was a bit scraped up from the fall, I couldn’t help but laugh. Today was so much fun, and I can’t believe we have to leave already.

Kayla
Kayla–Today was a really fun, yet mellow day.  We started out with a kayak to Two Harbors, and then boarded a bus for Little Harbor.  At Little Harbor, we spent most of the day at a campground.  WE did more soapstone carving and went swimming.  We also went to two exhibits of a fox and a bald eagle, which were cool.  Then we went to the Airport in the Sky for dinner, where I ate really good tacos.  When we got back we started packing and went to bed.  Today was really a fun day.

Maya
Maya–Today was an exciting and relaxed day. We started off by going kayaking and my partner was Charlie, he was really good at it, seeing it was his first time kayaking. Then we went to Two Harbors and went for a swim, did some mellow crafts, and play games. Then we went to Airport in the Sky and had a fantastic dinner. Then on the way back we went to two exhibitions, the first one being the little island fox named Tashi, the other one was an exhibit on a cute bald eagle named Pimu.

Dev
Dev–Today was one of the best days of our whole trip! We woke up in the morning and ate an amazing breakfast of waffles and bacon. We then went kayaking, since it was my first time kayaking, I was very excited!  We beached our kayaks and had a competition between all the guys to see who could throw the rocks at the buoy. Charlie won because he threw 4 rocks right at the buoy. Then we set off to Little Harbor where we did some soapstone carving and we played soccer on the beach. Grant got his first splinter and he was laughing at the size of it. We then set off to an eagle and fox exhibit.  It was very interesting to see a bald eagle fly. Overall, today was a great day.

Charlie
Charlie–Our third day was great.  First thing we had another splendid breakfast, and I don’t think I mentioned this before but they have a ping-pong table. Jack and I play everyday before and after breakfast. We went kayaking today and it was really cool! Everyone but me has gone kayaking before, and our kayak still got first place (even though we were the only ones racing!). We stopped by a harbor to give our arms a rest and we tried to see who could hit a certain buoy first with rocks. We were both able to hit it. We drove to Airport in the Sky and on the way we saw a Catalina Fox exhibit, and an eagle exhibit. They were very cool animals. We had a very splendid meal and sat at one huge table with the girl team and the two boy teams.  Kurt wanted us to socialize with each other, but Dev was the only one who was really socializing. We drove a long way back and had a fun time eating s’mores and then went to our cabins.

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