University of Southern California

2013 QuikSCience Challenge
Winning Teams

High School

First Place: High Tech High North County, San Marcos, CA; "Coral Reefs Conservation"
Second Place: N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet, Team #1, Los Angeles, CA; "Build Your own Aquaponics Garden"
Best Service Learning Award: N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet, Team #2, Los Angeles, CA; "Ecotouring: How Alluring!"
Best Research Proposal: Westlake High School, Westlake, CA; "Water and You"
Best Cultural and Community Connections Award: Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, HI; "Aquaponics"

Middle School

First Place: St. John Fisher Parish, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA; "California Kelp Forest Ecosystem"
Second Place: San Joaquin Middle School, Irvine, CA; "Stop Ghost Fishing"
Best Future Visionaries Award:Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial School, Woodland Hills, CA; "Plastic Busters: Opt Out"
Best Real World Thinkers Award: Huntington Middle School, San Marino, CA; "Walk for Water Awareness"
Best Upcoming New QuikSCientists Award:Rice Elementary School, Rosemead, CA; "Analyzing Trash"



QuikSCience Challenge 2013
High School Winning Team Project Summaries

First Place:
High Tech High North County, San Marcos, CA

"Coral Reefs Conservation"

Lesson Plan: Our lesson is about the current state of coral, including environmental stressors, conservation efforts, and the progress we’ve made in our research. The game simulation revolves around an ecological balance, allowing students to alter the amount of “nitrates” in their environment with the intent of helping their coral grow without it being overwhelmed by harmful macro algae.

Community Service: "Remote Operated Vehicles also known as ROVs can be used for ocean exploration, animal cataloging, and data collection Our team raised funds to be sent to Curaçao by created an affordable design for ROVs that we are making available to schools around the world.

Environmental Solution: Our team has applied for a TED talk to create greater interest and awareness around coral conservation efforts. In addition to this we have created postcards to send to the island of Curacao in order to prevent further industrial development in close proximity to coral reefs offshore of the island.

Research Proposal: Coral reefs are important ecosystems in the ocean. Not only do coral reefs support two million different species, they also offer a strong economic stimulant to the areas where they exist, generating an estimated $375 billion dollars a year worldwide from tourism. However, coral reefs are under increasing threats. With increasing ocean temperatures in recent decades, the phenomenon of coral bleaching is increasing, and can lead to broad coral mortality. Nitrate levels are among the relatively undocumented factors, even though the issue is highly prevalent in Curaçao ‒ a Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela, known for its incredible biodiversity on the reefs. This brings up the question: 'How does increased dissolved nitrate concentration in an otherwise controlled environment affect Symbiodinium sheltered in Agaricia humilis over a two month period?'. In order to efficiently answer this question, High Tech High North County has constructed saltwater tanks to house three different coral species. These specimens will have a healthy and stable environment to live in, however, they will face amounts of increased and decreased dissolved nitrates in the water through experiments conducted by the students.

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High Tech High–LP
High Tech High–ES
High Tech High–CS
High Tech High–RP
High Tech High–PPT

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Second Place:
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet, Team #1, Los Angeles, CA

"Build Your own Aquaponics Garden"

Lesson Plan: We created a lesson to teach the students of Stonehurst Elementary about aquaponics, it's benefits, and to provide them with a take home system for them to maintain. We gave a brief lecture on plant and animal life, explaining the basic components of an aquaponics system. They then went to each station to pick up a part of their unit, answering questions asked by each presenter, and took their miniature ecosystems home to keep and care for.

Community Service: We built large and medium aquaponics systems at Stonehurst Elementary and Zoo Magnet, and sold miniature aquaponics units at the Autry Farmers Markets on more than 10 separate dates. We assisted in a garden workday at Stonehurst Elementary, and acquired donations from Zen Hydroponics and The Autry Farmer’s Market. We advertised all of our events and our project with a Winter Ball, Facebook; email blasts and recorded phone messages to all Zoo Magnet families. We also created a website teaching people about aquaponics and our project.

Environmental Solution: Traditional and fish farms both produce large quantities of nitrates which pollute waterways. Our solution is to amend the 2008 Farm Bill to provide subsidies to farmers who incorporate aquaponics into their existing farms. This would not only decrease the amounts of pollutants released into the environment; it increases yield of produce the farms, creates another source of income to the farmers in the sale of the fish.

Research Proposal: Our research proposal designs an experiment, which will test and calculate the levels of ammonia within two fish-raising facilities. The system with pure aquaculture will also use circulating techniques and the system with aquaponics will grow lettuce heads as well as the tilapia. Societal benefits include healthier oceans, healthier produce, and healthier economic situations for farmers who adopt the entire system and increase their variety of produce. With this project we hope to enlighten the public in order to gain support for incorporating aquaponics systems into major fish produce production. Hopefully, this initial step would lead to a complete replacement of aquaculture, effectively halting the harmful effects of ammonia output in the areas of the ocean most suitable for raising fish.

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N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 1–LP
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 1–ES
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 1–CS
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 1–RP

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Best Service Learning Award:
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet, Team #2, Los Angeles, CA

"Ecotouring: How Alluring!"

Lesson Plan: We educated elementary school students about the importance of trees and the effects that trees have on the ocean by going on a tour of The Los Angeles Zoo. High school Students learned the connection between animals and the ocean by going on a hike at Griffith Park.

Community Service: We took several approaches to promote involvement and awareness in today’s youth. We hosted several tree maintenances through TreePeople, created a database of environmentally friendly summer opportunities for teens, and held a wide array of educational lectures.

Environmental Solution: Ecotourism is a type of tourism in natural areas that conserve the environment and improves the well being of local people. Our solution is to create eco-cities in different rainforest locations to promote the understanding and action needed to stop deforestation.

Research Proposal: The environmental success of ecotourism has not yet been quantified, which is why we propose a comparative analysis of turbidity levels in two locations. One water sample will be taken from successful ecotourism site, and another from a costal deforested area. Understanding the difference in turbidity helps us understand the success of tree conservation.

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N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 2–LP 1
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 2–LP 2
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 2–ES
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 2–CS
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 2–RP
N. Hollywood Zoo Magnet 2–PPT

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Best Research Proposal:
Westlake High School, Westlake, CA

"Water and You"

Lesson Plan: We taught a group of 20 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at our local Boys and Girls Club the importance of maintaining proper wastewater treatment and the pollutants that interfere with treatment. 15 additional students participated in a lab that demonstrated the necessity of filtering water.

Community Service: First, our team, along with two WHS clubs, toured a local wetland, stayed after to help clean up the surrounding area, and presented our experiences to other students (50 participants). Second, we created a Facebook and Tumblr page to further our outreach (over 1000 people reached).

Environmental Solution: Bovine serum albumin contains thiol and other ionic groups that can potentially bind to the surface of Ag-NP; thus, BSA forms a membranous layer that can prevent ammonium from binding to Ag-NP, therefore protecting AOB from Ag-NP inhibition. Coating Ag-NP with BSA prior to manufacturing can reduce Ag-NP toxicity.

Research Proposal: This study analyzed the effect of ammonium on Ag-NP and Ag+ induced inhibition of N. europaea, an ammonia oxidizing bacteria vital to wastewater treatment plants. Results indicate that higher concentrations of ammonium increase the rate of dissolution of Ag-NP, which leads to higher levels of N. europaea inhibition.

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Westlake–Filtration Lab
Westlake–Wastewater Treatment Notes

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Best Cultural and Community Connections Award:
Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, HI


Lesson Plan: The lesson composed of two main components, which was to teach students about the components and value of aquaponics. First, our group showed our aquaponic experiment and taught the students visually how aquaponics works and how it is useful. Then, the students were asked to participate in our Aqua Twist game to learn more about the components of the aquaponics. This interactive game engaged the participants and also encouraged them to grow their own plants since prizes of bean/peas with soil were given to winners of the game. The lesson was taught to several groups of students for the duration of two weeks.

Community Service: Our community service took place at Punalu'u Lo'i on the island of O'ahu. A lo’i is a traditional Hawaiian aquaponic method of growing taro, where river water constantly waters the taro. For four hours, the group of 74 worked hard to plant new taro, harvest taro, weed, and sort new cuttings. It is very important as Hawaiians to continue old traditions and to help the land. Most importantly, taro is a main staple to Hawaiians and important food source. Since lo'i space is diminishing it is important to continue to maintain them so that they will be available for future generations.

Environmental Solution: Our first solution is for the proposal of an upper level Science Course in "Agriculture and Land Management" for Juniors and Seniors. Currently both Kamehameha Maui and Big Island campuses have implemented such a course, so we would like to have such a course available also to students on Oʻahu. The proposed course will re-enforce Hawaiian values, traditional skills, 21st century, problem solving, land/resource management, and skills for job placement. Our second solution is to build a green house area for plant studies, aquaponic, hydroponic, and traditional growth for 9th-10th grade campus and 11th-12th grade campus, so that current science classes such as Biology and AP. Biology/Marine Science have a place to do hands-on- activities and lab inquiry.

Research Proposal: The research proposal investigates the effectiveness of aquaponic gardening in growing tomatoes, beans, and peas as a viable alternative method of growing food versus traditional soil growth and hydroponic growth (with water only). The project also correlates water quality to the growth of the plants by investigating ammonia, nitrate, pH, salinity, temperature, and phosphate levels. Past research studies showed that ammonia from fish wastes is converted into nitrates, which are used by the plants as nutrients for growth. Thus the objective of the experiment was to compare and contrast the growth of tomatoes, beans, and pea plants in aquaponic medium by monitoring the changes in ammonia, pH nitrate, phosphate, temperature, and salinity overtime for three growth mediums (aquaponic, hydroponic- water only, and traditional growth).

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Kamehameha–LP Summary

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QuikSCience Challenge 2013
Middle School Winning Team Project Summaries

First Place:
St. John Fisher Parish, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

"California Kelp Forest Ecosystem and Deforestation"

Lesson Plan: This lesson will introduce the California Giant Kelp ecosystem to fourth grade students. Students will learn about the deforestation of California Giant Kelp and the destruction of the kelp ecosystem. By learning about kelp, students will better understand its importance to the ocean and the Earth.

Community Service: We researched and developed material for an original Girl Scout badge we call "The Living Ocean" to teach girls about our oceans. We then held a badge day at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, made up of five stations: Marine Protected Areas, Kelp Forests, Ocean Acidification, Watersheds, and Invasive Species. 83 at Badge Day and innumerable girls across the United States

Environmental Solution: The loss of the Southern Sea Otter in the kelp ecosystem is the main reason of kelp forest deforestation in southern California. The long-term solution we propose is to have a well-funded, focused effort to repopulate the Southern Sea Otters, which would enable the stabilization of the kelp ecosystem.

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St. John Fisher–LP
St. John Fisher–ES
St. John Fisher–CS
St. John Fisher–Badge Day

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Second Place:
San Joaquin Middle School, Irvine, CA

"Stop Ghost Fishing: A Net Left Today, A Life Lost Tomorrow"

Lesson Plan: We made sure to accommodate kinetic, visual, audio, and text learners. We provided students with activities, videos, PowerPoints, pictures, lectures, and worksheets. Our classes involved teamwork and innovative thinking, as through simulations and creative ideas for new solutions. We broadcasted a video on Rancho News Network.

Community Service: We reached out to our community through several unique ways. In addition to spreading the word on Facebook, OC Scholar, and our Weebly page, we distributed pamphlets to fishermen and put up posters in shopping centers. Furthermore, we even accompanied professional divers to clean up nets in local waters. If facebook insights are included, then we reached 11,875 people.

Environmental Solution: We decided attaching "repellers" to nets would be the best solution. Reflectors would be specialized, as acoustic reflectors for animals that use echolocation and electromagnets for animals that utilize the Earth's magnetic field. Repellers would be activated after net is lost, so the normal operation of the nets is fine.

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San Joaquin–LP
San Joaquin–LP, Ghost Fishing Worksheet
San Joaquin–LP, Group Activity Worksheet
San Joaquin–LP, Choose Your Own Adventure
San Joaquin–ES
San Joaquin–CS

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Best Future Visionaries Award:
Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial School, Woodland Hills, CA

"Plastic Busters: Opt Out"

Lesson Plan: It has been ingrained in our society to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and most recently rethink our non-biodegradable throwaways. However, the Plastic Busters encourages everyone to Opt Out of today's outdated options and create new innovated ideas based on current research that meet all our growing global needs. CA Science Standard grade 7 Evolution 1 & 5.

Community Service: We have increased our recycling efforts at Ivy by participating at all school functions & all locations. Our biggest contribution was the Fall Festival where we educated the public on ocean pollutants, recycled, and started our college scholarship fund for science/math major interested in being part of the Opt Out Solutions.

Environmental Solution: The Plastic Busters are petitioning hotel and other resorts to carry reusable cooler at their facilities in order to decrease the increasing amount of Styrofoam found on our beaches and islands. With each site having 2-5 coolers (either check out or a small rental fee) we could improve our beach and water quality in no time.

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Ivy Academia–LP
Ivy Academia–ES
Ivy Academia–CS

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Best Real World Thinkers Award:
Huntington Middle School, San Marino, CA

"Walk for Water Awareness"

Lesson Plan: Students generate discussion related to water conservation and how everyday actions contribute the health of the ocean. In the body of the lesson, students calculate water use, learn about where their water comes from, learn how water usage impacts the ocean, watch a video of children in Africa accessing water and experience first-hand what it is like carry water, simulating how water is carried in many parts of the world and how valued is this limited resource.

Community Service: We wanted our community, neighbors and friends and family to have a better understanding of how everyday actions impact the ocean. Our approach was to get the message out with printed handouts made by us, door-to-door discussions, AND electronic communication. We initiated a multi-media public service campaign with announcements and messages about the importance of ocean and water conservation specific for teens, adults and Chinese, Spanish and English speaking families. Our message reached at minimum of 400 people through electronic communication. In one month, we anticipate that over 1,500 people will be impacted by our outreach campaign.

Environmental Solution: We decided the most effective way to get people to stop taking long showers is to have the water turn cold after five minutes. Our new invention is a programmable shower water timer. The timer would be set to allow for an initial 2 minutes of shower time, then the water would turn off. We estimate the average person would save 32 gallons of water per shower with this device.

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Best Upcoming New QuikSCientists Award:
Rice Elementary School, Rosemead, CA

"Analyzing Trash Using the Scientific Method"

Lesson Plan: The class came up with 3 questions to investigate regarding trash at Rice School. They picked up trash for 3 weeks every Friday, sorted the trash, and analyzed the data. They came up with a conclusion. They also did some research on the last Coastal Cleanup and compared results with Rice School results.

Community Service: The students developed a PowerPoint presentation to show our project, which includes background information about the Garbage Patch, the effects of trash on marine life, and a comparison of our school results with the last Coastal Cleanup. The presentations were given to the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes. Students also participated in Caine's Cardboard Challenge at the Aquarium of the Pacific and allowed visitors to the Aquarium to tryout out the games. The students also presented to 5th grade students in Orange County at the Ocean Institute Kids' Conference.

Environmental Solution: The students saw a video "Caine's Cardboard Challenge" and were inspired on how Caine used cardboard to create arcade games. The students then came up with their own arcade games made out of cardboard keeping the "Ocean" as their theme. Almost all the projects deal with a way to dispose of trash since their project related to the importance of picking up trash. After the students at Rice School listened to the PowerPoint presentation, the students were given an opportunity to "play" the arcade games.

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