University of Southern California

2009 QuikSCience Challenge
Winning Teams

High School

First Place: Francis Parker School
Second Place: San Fernando High School
Best Lesson Plan: Canyon Crest Academy
Best Community Service: Animo Leadership Charter High School
Honorable Mention: Eco Academy Charter School


Middle School

First Place: Marina del Rey Middle School
Second Place: Menifee Valley Middle School
Best Lesson Plan: Virgil Middle School
Best Community Service: St. Margaret's Episcopal School
Honorable Mention: Will Rogers Middle School



QuikSCience Challenge 2009
High School Winning Team Project Summaries

First Place:
Francis Parker School

Team Members: Ms. Kathleen Young, Emily Baratta, Kira Newton, Alicia Valencia, Kaity Wilson, Simone Leonard, Samantha Sheehan, Amber Speicher

Lesson Plan Summary: The goal of this lesson was to integrate an interactive lesson plan into a school's curriculum through the implementation of hands-on and group activities focused on coral reef ecosystems. The lesson plan began with a brief power point lecture on the basics of coral reef ecosystems and human impacts on these environments. Students then worked in teams to construct a 3-D coral reef ecosystem using various art supplies. This elementary-level lesson plan was also adapted for older students who participated in a "coral reef scavenger hunt" in the classroom. In addition, a "Fact or Fiction?" game on coral reef and worksheet was completed to assess students' understanding of the topic. Supplemental sheets/activities were left with each class. They taught this lesson plan to 10 different classes of various ages (grades 3-12; ~200 students).

Community Service Summary: The focus of their community service project was to educate San Diegans about their local environment and provide them with outdoor experiences unique to Southern California. This idea was developed after they learned an astonishing fact that there are so many people in their community who are not aware of the unique activities found just in their own backyard. Their team hosted six events in San Diego where they developed small lesson plans to educate participants. These events included a visit to the Water of Life exhibit at the SD Natural History Museum, snorkeling, kayaking, visiting tide pools, touring a wetland and nature preserve, and whale watching. Their events educated the community and also promoted the local economy. More importantly, these events also united people from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds from various parts of San Diego. Total Number of participants reached: Approximately 150-200 directly; some families even returned to sites with friends (spreading the word!).

Research Proposal Summary: The purpose of their research proposal was to examine the effects of tourism on the local reef environment. Coral reefs are vital yet brittle ecosystems that provide habitats for about 25% of all marine fish species. The fragile framework means that the reef is susceptible to major damage from strong physical contact such as from boat anchors or beginner snorkelers. Since tourism plays a major role in the economy of the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Island's GDP depends on tourism as well as 80% of all employment) they wanted to see examine the effects of tourism on the coral reef environment. To do so, they would want to compare the percentage of coral and other organism species of popular tourist sites (Fish Bay, Watermelon Cay, Trunk Bay) to secluded sites. Their goal through this proposal was to examine the extent that tourism harms the coral reef environment so that regulations on human interaction with coral reefs can be created.

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Second Place:
San Fernando High School

Team Members: Ms. Kathryn Connolly, Yesenia Garcia, Miguel Heurta, Luz Espino, Christian Chavero, Paulo Rodriguez, Melissa Serrano, Blanca Villa

Lesson Plan Summary: Their lesson introduced students to the reasons why using reusable bags instead of plastic bags would help the animals in our oceans live longer and healthier lives. Students learned about the structure and function of dolphins and whales. Food chains and food webs involving dolphins and whales were discussed. Ultimately, students would understand what can happen if dolphins or whales were removed from their food web. Finally, students will make connections as to how reducing or eliminating plastic bags can help save our marine animals (ecosystem).

Community Service Summary: The QuikScience team and Science Club members organized a "Family Night" at Shakey's Pizza Parlor, where over 120 students, parents and teachers socialized. The Team presented information on recycling and using reusable bags. The team presentation was given in English and Spanish. The QuikScience members orchestrated the selling of reusable bags to replace plastic bags and sold over 200 bags to students and staff! Generation Earth invited us to attend the Youth Forum held at the Walt Disney Studios to learn about the environment and how we invoked positive change at our school.

Research Proposal Summary: The goal of the QuikScience team was to educate the public and government agencies about existing research on the human predation of dolphins and the subsequent impact on related fish populations. The reduction of dolphin populations ultimately changes the dynamics of localized ecosystems. Mechanical robot fish are useful tools in the collection of data on dolphin population densities. Robot fish have the ability to communicate among themselves and can monitor large dolphin pods as well as pollution plumes. Information gathered from such sources can be disseminated and used to inform various peoples and nations of the world.

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Best Lesson Plan:
Canyon Crest Academy

Team Members: Ms. Christine Gilman, Melissa Milder, Alvin Yeh, Alden Hozouri, Marlene Magit, Claudia Zaugg, Kai Kuspa

Lesson Plan Summary: They held an assembly at a local elementary school for 3rd graders. They focused on education of ocean pollution through different means including a campus clean up, a PowerPoint presentation, games, a story, etc. The point of this was to encourage the younger generation to recycle and respect the ocean. Number of students taught: ~100-120 3rd graders (held January 9, 2009).

Community Service Project: Their main community service project was creating customized reusable bags (an alternative for plastic bags) for their school. These bags continue to be sold at school events, sports games, etc. They also educated the elementary school students about ocean pollution and participated in the San Diego River Valley Conservancy Project. Number of participants reached: 800+ (including people who buy the bags, elementary school students, and members of the San Diego River Valley Conservancy).

Research Proposal Summary: Alarming amounts of polyethylene and polyurethane plastics are dumped into the world oceans everyday. The accumulation of non-biodegradable materials in the ocean started in the early 1950's and has continued at a near exponential rate. Their study proposed to find a correlation between polyethylene plasticizers and toxicity levels in the livers of bony fish. Bony fish are an integral part of the coral reef, and are also a huge part of human economic systems around the world.

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Best Community Service:
Animo Leadership Charter High School

Team Members: Mr. Mark Friedman, Gerardo Enriquez, Josselyn Portillo, Kenny Santos, Christine Munoz, Karina Martinez, Debby Portillo, Illiana Alvarez

Lesson Plan Summary: This project and lesson was to honor Charles Darwin, founder of many original ideas about evolution and to celebrate 150 years since the publication of "On the Origin of Species." Their goal was to use the concepts of evolution to demonstrate Cetacean evolution from terrestrial land mammals to marine mammals and to explain how global climate change is affecting cetaceans' behavior and potentially larger evolutionary changes. Number of students and adults taught: 550+ during Darwin Week. Future presentation planned.

Community Service Summary: They presented their project to the entire student body through the science department classes. Their project was the introduction for 9th grade to evolution. As well, they helped organize the complete Darwin Week that included public speakers and a birthday party celebration. Number of participants reached: 500+.

Research Proposal Summary: Their project included a lesson and minor demonstration of how marine organisms are changing their normal behaviors due to climate change. They used temperate water-living sea stars and a 5 ft. tank with two inches of seawater with different temperature intervals every few inches. In their natural Southern California environment, sea stars live at in a range of 16°C +/- a few degrees for seasonal changes. They focused on available sea stars with the project, but this concept/experiment can be applied to other marine phyla.

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Honorable Mention:
Eco Academy Charter School #1

Team Members: Tisha Middleton, Brici Sanchez, Mario Aburto, Marlon Rivera, Johnny Mendez, Kent Mendoza, Jose Arreola

Lesson Plan Summary: Their group decided to teach students about storm drains and sewer pipes. They taught five classes at their school. They rotated every other day and taught to reach as many students as possible. They would get different results from all the classes. For example, most of the classes actually learned what they taught them, they would grab their attention and they would get into it. They handed out a pre-test to the students just to see how much they knew about storm drains. After that, they would start teaching and then after they were done with their teaching session, they would hand out a post-test to find out how much they learned. One class had 22 students and in the beginning the didn't know anything and when they were done with their teaching session, 17 students actually learned something and 5 students didn't really learned much. Their goal was to teach little kids too, so they decided to go teach an elementary school. As usual they hand out a pre-test to find out how much they knew about storm drains. There were 30 students in the class and they all seem to be interested, so they really did grab their attention. After the teaching session they had an activity for them that explain how watershed works. Afterwards, all 23 students improved in the post-test and 7 didn't really understand it as much. Overall their lesson was very effective and they had students learning a lot about storm drains.

Community Service Summary: Their team had a great experience participating in the community service. Not only did they just clean, but they had a great time in the process. They went kayaking with all the other groups and conducted liter pickup at the beach/water. People had fun because they were enthusiastic to pick up even one single piece of trash. While they were picking up trash, they were also taking photos. They even picked up the smallest pieces of trash, which are called "Nurdles". When the time was up; they swap with the other group. Then when they were done, they would go back to the sea lab and separate the recyclables by cans and plastic. Usually people get lazy or bored to pick up trash, but everybody that attended to that field trip was having fun. Picking up trash is a great help for their environment and picking up trash keeps their community clean and safe. They want to have a beautiful view and they want people to admire how environmentally conscious they are.

Research Proposal Summary: The objective for their research proposal is to try to prevent ocean pollution caused by storm drains. They provide a literature review that give valuable solutions to storm drain pollution. They also talk about the effects that storm drains cause in the ocean. They give specific materials and techniques that they want to use for solving the pollution. The techniques they have are to create stronger fences and a water disinfectant to try to maintain their storm drains cleaner and prevents ocean pollution.

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QuikSCience Challenge 2009
Middle School Winning Team Project Summaries

First Place:
Marina del Rey Middle School #1

Team Members: Ms. Leticia Escajeda, Conan Escajeda, Stephanie Barrera, Nicole Kishimoto, Jay Ruelas, Jennifer Thurber

Lesson Plan Summary: The team presented to parents, prospective sixth graders, sixth graders, and to second graders. The students wanted to teach their audiences that scientists dig for sand crabs, but they must do so using a certain method and special tools. In addition, they informed their audiences of the importance of sand crabs both in the food chain and as indicators of contaminants in the ocean. The overall number of parents and students that were presented to was approximately 100.

Community Service Summary: Since sand crabs are good indicators of contaminants in their environment, the team decided it was time to help the sand crabs keep their home clean. So, the students planned to clean up the bike path located behind the middle school and next to Ballona Creek. Many bike riders, joggers, and walkers cheered and chuckled as the students competed against each other in picking up the most trash. Over three hundred pieces were found within one hour along a quarter mile stretch of the bike path.

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Second Place:
Menifee Valley Middle School

Team Members: Ms. Cheryl Frye, Megan Fokken, Max Sias, Sierra Burgos, Holly Oyenhart, Elizabeth Hoffman, Molly Paschall, Hayley Castaing

Lesson Plan Summary: Their lesson plan discussed ocean pollution, how ocean pollution affects people and animals and how they can reduce ocean pollution at school. Students were given sentence strips that were cut up and contained the main idea of each topic. Students put them together as an activity. Number of students taught: 245 students.

Community Service Summary: They wanted to educate their students about ocean pollution and what they can do to help. They thought they would produce a brochure, but then wanted to stay true to being green and not waste paper, so they asked their technology teacher to help us make a website to educate their student population. Numbers of participants reached: potentially can reach school population and/or district population because of a link on District home page.

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Best Lesson Plan:
Virgil Middle School

Team Members: Mr. Michael Galvan, Rida Qureshi, Jimmy Can, Katherine Cruz, Annie Lopez, April Corado, Joan Espino

Lesson Plan Summary: The 3rd grade elementary school students were introduced to a lesson on the ways to keep the beach clean. There were three stations the students would rotate to, each teaching the students how trash affects the beach and the animals that call it home. Students were engaged from the start. Number of students taught: 18-20.

Community Service Summary: Virgil Middle School students set out over a two-hour period to do their part in keeping the beach clean. Students were placed in groups to comb the beach in search of as much trash as possible. Trash that was collected included cigarette butts, Styrofoam cups, plastic bottles and caps.

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Best Community Service:
St. Margaret's Episcopal School #2

Team Members: Mr. Eric Harrington, Tessa Hurr, Laren Cooper, Sarah Phelan, Palmer Knutson, Brooke Pigneri, Caroline Smith

Lesson Plan Summary: Their lesson plan was designed to teach fourth and fifth-graders about hazardous waste. They created a PowerPoint to inform them and an activity using PowerPoint to help them learn it in another way. They taught two fifth-grade classes, and emailed the lesson plan to the other teachers.

Community Service Summary: Their community service project was designed mainly to promote the correct disposure of hazardous waste products. Throughout the week of February 2nd-6th, they collected dead batteries of all sorts from their middle school class. They then took them to the hazardous waste drop-off area down Ortega Highway.

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Honorable Mention:
Will Rogers Middle School

Team Members: Ms. Tracy Tegtmeier, Manuel Arevalo, Hugo Rivera, Giancarlo Meda, Gerardo Leos, Karen Quinteros, Suher Adi

Lesson Plan Summary: This lesson used a game/model environmental change and its effect on the natural selection process. Cards represented genotypes of urchins. Event cards are used to represent predation, reproduction, and disease. Depending on nature's backdrop (tidal zone/kelp), different colored urchins will be selected for based on their coloring. Number of students taught: 70.

Community Service Summary: Their initial community service involves getting the student, families, teachers and scientists of the local Abalone Cove area involved with monitoring the ocean life. This will be done through the Internet with information exchanged on a website: They hope to expand the scope to involve other coastal areas. Number of participants reached: Will be released later this year (local teachers invited to participate) in all local schools and Daily Breeze.

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