University of Southern California

2010 QuikSCience Challenge
Winning Teams

High School

First Place: Kamehameha Schools
Second Place (tied): Santa Monica High School
Second Place (tied): Chadwick School
Best Environmental Solution: Canyon Crest Academy
Best Environmental Spirit: Morningside High School
Best Out-of-the-Box Thinking: SOAR High School


Middle School

First Place: Eastshore School
Second Place: St. Margarets Episcopal School
Best Environmental Solution: John Glenn Middle School
Best Lesson Plan: Marina del Rey Middle School
Best Community Service: Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial Charter School



QuikSCience Challenge 2010
High School Winning Team Project Summaries

First Place:
Kamehameha Schools

Teacher: Lea Parveen Arce

Team Members: Raechele Jang, Tyler Meditz, Anthony Cavalieri, Jacelyn Chang, Skyler Nakamura, Christian Amaral

Lesson Plan Summary: "Our 3-day lesson plan focuses on the effects of the invasive species Gracilaria salicornia in Hawai'i's coral reef ecosystem. Note that Lessons 1 & 2 are background lessons to help facilitate Lesson 3. Lesson 3 is the Main Ocean Lesson, which focuses on the effects of the invasive seaweed Gracilaria salicornia in the coral reef ecosystem. The students taught the Lesson in two places: right before the community service on Saturday February 6, 2010 and during the school's Sustainability Fair on Wednesday, February 17, 2010."

Community Service Summary: "The eradication of the invasive seaweed Gracilaria salicornia (commonly known as Gorilla ogo) took place on Heheia Fishpond in Kaneohe, Ohahu. Students from Kamehameha Schools Kapalama High School biology class, grade 8, the school's High School surf club, and parents helped in removing the seaweed. Approximately 5,430 pounds of seaweed (362 bags) were collected and given for composting to the Rapoon family for use in the growth of the taro."

Research Project Summary: "Gracilaria salicornia is considered one of the most threatening invasive species in the coral reef ecosystem in Hawai'i. This seaweed particularly grows densely on top of the coral reef preventing reef fishes and various aquatic organisms from receiving nutrients. Hence, the Research will assess how the Gracilaria salicornia affects the coral reef ecosystem in terms of abiotic factors such as pH, salinity, temperature, carbon dioxide, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, chloride, ammonium, turbidity, phosphate, and how these factors alter the food web of the coral reef ecosystem."

Environmental Solution Summary: "A variety of solutions were proposed such as: 1) expansion of budget and grants for eradication and research projects, 2) possible introduction of biological control that would eat the invasive seaweed, 3) school-wide service learning environmental projects for each grade level throughout the students' high school years at Kamehameha, 4) encouragement of composting or mulching of the seaweed as a business endeavor for taro farmers, and 5) for students in this project to continue teaching the public and peers of their lesson and research."

Download PDFs:

Kamehameha–LP Day1
Kamehameha–LP Day2
Kamehameha–LP Day3
Kamehameha–Teaching the Lesson
Kamehameha–Presentation (ppt)

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Second Place (tied):
Santa Monica High School

Lesson Plan Summary: "Our lesson plan consisted of a documentary, PowerPoint and experiential lab demos. Team Marine's "10 R" curriculums highlighted the cause of, problems involved with, and solutions to marine debris and global warming. We presented it to middle and high schools with modifications based on time and grade level of the students."

Community Service Summary: "Our community service project involved activities including an organized march to ban single-use plastic bags in Santa Monica, producing a documentary to spread awareness about solutions to plastic debris, outreach to the community at many eco-events, supporting the implementation of MPAs along our coast, and organizing and hosting a school-wide day of environmental assemblies. In these activities our number of participants was estimated at about 2,039,605 individuals."

Research Project Summary: "Guided by the results from our own research, we propose to go out into the marine environment and determine whether near-shore fish eat plastics contaminated with hydrophobic chemicals and whether these chemicals leach into the fish we eat."

Environmental Solution Summary: "In order to combat the plastic pollution crisis in our ocean we have devised a two-part solution including prevention and recovery. To recover floating plastic in the ocean, we will deploy artificial patches of Sargassum seaweed made from biodegradable plastic to trap neustonic debris. To prevent further destruction we will teach people about our sustainable "10 R" solutions and we will propose mandatory K-12 curriculum."

Download PDFs:

Santa Monica–LP
Santa Monica–CS
Santa Monica–RP
Santa Monica–Project Summary
Santa Monica–Portfolio
Santa Monica–10 R's
Santa Monica–IMG_0110
Santa Monica–Multimedia

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Second Place (tied):
Chadwick Schools

Lesson Plan Summary: "To share our research conducted in the local coastal environments with younger students at Chadwick, we developed 6 different lessons that taught about our research findings. The lessons included a fun, educative, age-appropriate activity related to our research and left students with an important conservation message about caring for the ocean."

Community Service Summary: "In support of large MPAs for Palos Verdes during the MLPA initiative, we organized our community with the following opportunities to let our voices be heard: an email writing campaign in the Chadwick community, fliers posted around the South Bay, speaking at a PVE city council meeting and preparing speeches for, and going to the Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting (10/09) and delivering our message, gaining the attention of the LA Times. We estimated that 500 people attended the BRTF meeting and we had 400 families at Chadwick participating in the email writing campaign."

Research Project Summary: "One study examines fish diversity inside and outside MPAs and the other examines the population dynamics of two tide pool invertebrates. We also believe that future research conducted inside and outside MPAs in the new California network will show that these work to protect biodiversity and increase abundance of species. The MPAs will also serve as a model to other states and countries and will motivate them to protect their own coastal heritage and resources."

Environmental Solution Summary: "Due to our data that showed a decline in diversity and abundance of intertidal species at our Ocean Trails study site, we decided to focus our environmental solution on stopping the human impact in that biological community. We proposed to put up signs describing appropriate behaviors for visiting the tide pools and with unlimited funding we would create a local MPA at this site and install security devices and start a camp for kids to increase awareness."

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Best Environmental Solution:
Canyon Crest Academy

Lesson Plan Summary: "Our lesson incorporates basic elements of oceanic food webs and biomes in order to raise awareness about human impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Our main goal was demonstrating the importance of the ocean in our lives and illustrating the harmful effects that unsustainable human activities have on aquatic biodiversity."

Community Service Summary: "Our community service project involved raising awareness by hanging up informational posters on campus, collecting pledges, and making a trash sculpture shaped like a sea lion representing the amount litter collected on beaches. Through these methods, we reached over 500 individuals, both around campus and at local beaches."

Research Project Summary: "The rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, as the result of post industrial oil and natural gas consumption, are not only affecting our air but also our oceans. Research has shown that ocean acidification is detrimental to many marine communities. As increasing amounts of carbon dioxide are being released into the atmosphere from industrial activities, the oceans are becoming more acidic. Modeling a simple kelp forest community, by having few organisms in different tanks, will test the effects of predicted decreases in seawater pH on local marine communities. One tank will be the control, while the other three tanks will have varying levels of seawater acidity. It is hypothesized that lower seawater pH will result in decreased health of the marine organisms. The results of this experiment could provide more information about the effects of increased ocean acidity on local kelp ecosystems."

Environmental Solution Summary: "The environmental solution attempts to lower the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere both by creating worldwide CO2 quotas and by increasing the amount of algae both in the oceans and for use as biofuel. If this were to succeed, the acidification of the ocean would potentially be slowed."

Download PDFs:

Canyon Crest–RP

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Best Environmental Spirit:
Morningside High School

Lesson Plan Summary: "Living in a highly urbanized area, it is important for students to be aware of how negative actions pertaining to the environment could be harmful to human beings, land, and aquatic animals. Informing elementary students about acid rain, its formation, effects on structures, and how it could be minimized is helpful information."

Community Service Summary: "We had a chance to present the harmful effects of acid rain in the Parent-Teacher meeting. We gave brochures in Spanish and English to students, who were present at the lesson on acid rain, to give to their parents. We also held a recycling activity on the campus right after lunch."

Research Project Summary: "This project seeks to answer the question on how the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water of a lake gets affected by thermal pollution from factories, power plants, and storm water runoff. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be employed to analyze the water sample in the lake."

Environmental Solution Summary: "It is a known fact that acid rain comes from man-made sources such as industries, utilities, and emissions from transportation. Reducing the use of electricity; reusing, and recycling things; carpooling; and bicycling or walking are ways to lessen the formation of acid rain especially in urban areas."

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Best Out-of-the-Box Thinking:
SOAR High School

Teacher: Yvonne Campos

Team Members: Priscilla Rodriguez, Rishe Sivagnemem, Sohn Cook, Xavier Trejo

Lesson Plan Summary: "The lesson plan was designed to teach students what causes water pollution and how they can positively contribute to stopping water pollution. Students read an article about how water pollutants are linked to declining male fertility, were provided informational PowerPoint, and did an "Ocean In A Bottle" lab."

Community Service Summary: "In the community service project, O.C.E.A.N.I.T.S.—G.W., wanted to educate students at SOAR High School about possible career fields that would help preserve our environment. Mr. Robert Wood, Division Chief for Environmental Management, was invited as a guest speaker from Edwards Air Force Base."

Research Project Summary: "The basis of our proposal is to solve the continuing problem of the increasing amount of CO2 in the ocean. Oceans are one of our largest natural absorbers of carbon dioxide. Although this may seem to be advantageous, it is not a long-term solution. Global warming and greenhouse gases have inhibited the ocean's natural ability to absorb CO2 and other particles and now oceans in the Atlantic are taking the hit and becoming warmer than in previous years. We propose to build a machine that reduces the carbon dioxide diffusion rates in the oceans that would be placed in locations next to oceans that are greatly affected by CO2 pollution around the world."

Environmental Solution Summary: "Carbon dioxide molecules pose a problem to our oceans and biosphere. O.C.E.A.N.I.T.S.—G.W.'s solution to the problem is to design an apparatus that will sequester CO2 molecules in an effort to decrease global CO2 concentrations, which can contribute to the destruction of ocean habitats from global warming."

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QuikSCience Challenge 2010
Middle School Winning Team Project Summaries

First Place: 
Eastshore School

Teacher: Bill Brooks

Team Members: Lauren Kim, Joseph Kim, Erik Heins, Luke Son, Amit Yativ, Ai Kaisho

Lesson Plan Summary: "The QuikSCience Team developed a food chain lab simulation that shows what happens when POPs, which are persistent organic pollutants, end up in the ocean. POPs enter the ocean through discarded plastic, and in this lab simulation, students investigated what happens when POPs move into the food chain. Students used simulated fish to eat phytoplankton, and like real fish, they didn't know which phytoplankton were actually POPs. Students exchanged their phytoplankton to obtain animals higher up the food chain in order to see what happens. The lesson was designed for fourth graders covering life science standard 2a and 2b. The lesson was also taught in three sixth grade classrooms for practice. It also meets sixth grade science standards as well."

Community Service Summary: "The team contacted David Weeshoff from Algalita Marine Research Foundation to do a presentation for Eastshore's sixth graders on the Pacific Garbage Patch. After talking with both Mr. Weeshoff and Anna Cummins, the team decided to encourage others to reduce the use of single-use disposable plastics, and we began researching this topic. The team developed a web site,, and we began collecting straws, both at school and at the local Carl's Jr. Restaurant, for Algalita Marine Research. Algalita plans to use the straws to build a stand-up paddleboard for educational purposes. We collected over three thousand straws, and we plan to collect a minimum of 10,000. We have written letters to companies that sell products packaged in single-use disposable plastic to encourage them to switch to something else. We networked with other environmental organizations to get our message out as well as working with the County of Orange "10% in 2010" campaign to reduce overall waste in Orange County. We received an award for our efforts on February 10, 2010. We were filmed for Green Technology on Friday, February 19, 2010 and we organized a school-wide beach cleanup at Doheny State Beach on Saturday, February 13, 2010."

Download PDFs:

Eastshore–Lab Activity

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Second Place:
St. Margaret's Episcopal School

Teacher: Eric Harrington

Team Members: Brent Cahill, Christian Carnahan, Jack Cowan, Liam McGregor, Benjamin Wang

Lesson Plan Summary: "Our lesson plan is to teach two fifth grade classes in St. Margaret's about how to reduce by-catch in our ocean fisheries. We will include a PowerPoint, an animated game to explain our solutions, and a game of Jeopardy."

Community Service Summary: "Operation Abyssal" is a project committed to calling up fishing companies to try and convince or inform of actions, to create a website and Facebook page, and go door to door with fliers to inform people about fishing practices. We reached out to 4 local fisheries and an estimated 115-175 families."

Environmental Solution Summary: "Our first solution is the TED to prevent turtles from entering the net; our second solution was the HFSER to prevent sonar sensitive animals such as dolphin from going into the net, and lastly the EMPE, to prevent sharks from entering into the fishing net."

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Best Environmental Solution:
John Glenn Middle School

Teacher: Kim Ussery

Team Members: Elly Green, Janet Zepeda, Irie Jimenez, Shannon Slankard, Addison Phillips, Ann Marie Magnus, Jacey Prahl, Colette Ussery, Raychel Jackman, Meagan Huebner, Emilie Kassin

Lesson Plan Summary: "The lesson plan began with a PowerPoint about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then the students sang, to the tune of "Under the Sea," about the dangers of plastics in the ocean."

Community Service Summary: "Classrooms were given plastic bags to collect cans and bottles for a three-week contest and the team made a video announcement about the contest. The bags were collected and the winning class received a donut party. The team counted all items for their project and donated the cans and bottles to a local recycling facility."

Environmental Solution Summary: "The team's research determined that disposable coffee cups are wasteful. The team asked local coffee shops to give a discount to customers that brought in their own coffee cup. The team then designed cups with JGMS red hawk mascot on one side and an environmental message with the discount information on the other and sold the cups for $5.00 apiece."

Download PDFs:

John Glenn–LP
John Glenn–Presentation (ppt)

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Best Lesson Plan:
Marina del Rey Middle School

Teacher: Leticia Escajeda

Team Members: Stephanie Barrera, Nicole Kishimoto, Conan Escajeda, Jay Ruelas, Jennifer Thurber, Jacob Cooper, Steve Ruelas

Lesson Plan Summary: "The team presented to over 80 third and sixth graders. We wanted to teach our audiences about the effects of trash on birds and other animals that live in Ballona Creek. The team made paper mache birds and stuffed their "stomachs" with "clean" trash (plastic bottle caps, twisties, balloons, etc.) and "real food" (candy). The team members then taught the younger students how scientists investigate the death of birds and other animals by opening the digestive system and reviewing the contents. In addition, the team and students discussed how they could prevent the death of many animals by simply putting trash in trashcans and making sure that the trashcans are covered."

Community Service Summary: "Since we studied birds from the Ballona Wetlands, we decided to have beach clean-ups so the birds wouldn't have so many opportunities to eat trash. We wanted to have a beach clean up every season. So, we had one in September with 100 participants and picked up about 20 to 25 bags of trash. Then we had one in January with only 14 people participating. However there wasn't a lot of big trash; mainly just cigarette butts. We plan to have another in April and our last will be in June. To get students and their families to participate, we made announcements on the school's intercom and afterwards gave certificates to Islands Restaurant."

Environmental Solution Summary: "Everyday, during lunchtime, birds fly to our school to look for something good to eat. They easily take trash out of the receptacles because the cans don't have any lids. But the birds just don't stay and eat. Many of them fly away with their prizes and end up dropping the trash either into Ballona Creek (which is next to our school) or into other parts of the school or city. When we looked around the city, we noticed that many of the trashcans didn't have lids. Many were overflowing with trash and the trash would either be on the ground or flying away in the wind. We decided that the City of Los Angeles needs to place trashcans with lids on the sidewalks. The LAUSD also needs to replace its current receptacles with those that have lids."

Download PDFs:

Marina del Rey–LP
Marina del Rey–LP Student Procedure
Marina del Rey–LP Data Sheet
Marina del Rey–LP Graph Sheet
Marina del Rey–LP Conclusion Sheet

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Best Community Service:
Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial Charter School

Teacher: Charlene Guss

Team Members: Amy Philip, Caleb Lubell, James Whaley III, Shari Coleman, Edmund Malapote, Denis Reznik, Brittany Adler

Lesson Plan Summary: "Our lesson plan introduced students to the wonders of the ocean, the dangers of ocean plastics, and the importance of protecting our ocean environment for human and oceanic generations to come. At the end of our lesson the students became Ocean Ambassadors and were empowered to go out in to the world with their new knowledge."

Community Service Summary: "We used the "REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE Model" for our service project. We used the reduce element in our lesson plan and in our indoctrination of student Ocean Ambassadors. Furthermore, we collected and recycled plastic gift cards at Best Buy, plastic bottles at Vons, plastic bottle caps at Thousand Oaks Tomra Pacific Inc., and ink cartridges at Planet Green. Local businesses like Bone Clones gave us prizes for top collectors and they donated their recyclables to Ivy. All money went to building more and better community recycling programs."

Environmental Solution Summary: "During the 6th grade Marina del Rey Water Safety Program the science club realized how important it was for the community to have a personal connection with the ocean and for the public to have a vested interest in its health. Training students to be Ocean Ambassadors or advocates for our ocean was a great environmental solution for our program."

Download PDFs:

Ivy Academia–Science Adventure Club
Ivy Academia–Ocean Plastics

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