QuikSCience Challenge!!

Team Marine “Bag Team” competed in this year’s QuikSCience Challenge!

The QuikSCience challenge is a competition for middle and high school students. Each team creates a science project related  to marine or freshwater environments. The challenge is sponsored by the USC College Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies in partnership with Quiksilver Inc.

Each team (up to 6 students) submits:

  • A portfolio that includes all they’ve done
  • A lesson plan that they will teach to other students, and
  • A community service project
  • A research proposal
  • An Environmental Solution
  • and a 2min summary video clip



Our project: Plastic Pollution

We learn a lot just by being in Team Marine, but this project gave us the opportunity to learn even more and apply all that we’ve learned to a meaningful and inspiring project. Not only this, but this project brought us closer together as a team and has taught us skills that we can use throughout the rest of our lives. We admit, some parts of the project were difficult, but we pulled through and had a great experience in the end. Thanks QuikSCience!!



Here’s a link to our 2-min video clips!



The Streets to Sea challenge!

 Bag team and Car team joined forces to compete in Generationearth’s Streets to Sea challenge. The five of us competing are: Alexis Saez (bag team), Angelina Hwang (car team), Edie Cote (bag team), Ivan Morales (car team), and Matilda Mead (bag team). For this competition, Edie and Matilda conducted a watershed audit of our schools campus.



They found:

20 green- places water can get into ground: grass, bare dirt, and gardens

15 blue- sources of water: faucets, drinking fountains, sprinklers, and hoses

15 purple- places where water travels: gutters, drains, concrete, and asphalt

13 red X- things harmful to water: food trash, candy wrappers, motor oil, and pet waste

37 yellow circles- areas of concern with lots of trash

We then submitted info on our campaigns to teach the community on Single-use plastics(bag team) and alternative energies(car team) and how they relate to our campus watershed audits. Our primary messages of theses campaigns: to REFUSE single-use plastics and to RETHINK our ways of life.

Earth Month Hero!

Today was the Earth Month kick off event hosted by the Wyland Foundation. I was nominated as an earth month hero by Team Marine’s coach, Benjamin Kay. I spoke in front of an audience which was a terrifying experience but in the end everything turned out ok. Earth month Heroes will be recognized in the Wyland Foundation and the KCBS 2/ KCal 9 websites. An awesome program that was brought to my attention during this event was the my water pledge. This pledge is to conserve water, save energy, and reduce pollution. It’s a great program that supports the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.


Two Hundred Thousand Page views!

We have reached 200,000 page views on the website. It is very inspiring to see that people tune in to see our projects and events. And even more so seeing that we reached so many people, not only in Los Angeles, but across the world!

Moving Out: Update 3/29/12

Today we moved the car from Santa Monica high school to Gadget’s house! After hours of planning we were able to obtain a tow truck using AAA. Everything went well except for when the tow truck driver got lost and ended up in downtown LA due to a problem with his GPS. I was sad to see the car being pulled out of its two year home at Samohi but at the same time thrilled to see the project on its way to completion.


   This past Monday, my mother drove me up to Sacramento to raise awareness for Ocean’s Day with fellow senators and assemblymen of California. Members of Heal the Bay, including Kirsten James who is Heal the Bay’s water quality director, Surfrider Foundation, and students of Scripps Institute of Oceanography were all there to learn as well as teach what they knew to legislatures that were either for or against a statewide plastic bag ban. I met with both Republicans and Democrats that shared their view on the environmental crisis at hand. Assembly member Julia Brownley of Santa Monica was all for the bag ban, wishing for as much environmental protection as California would allow. She passionately wants to protect our oceans as much as we do and vehemently agreed on the bag ban. She was extremely supportive in our efforts for conservation and was pleased to meet with us as we were with her. Assembly member Jim Silva of Huntington Beach was not as supportive and did not wish for a statewide bag ban as he did not feel the need for it at this time. Senator Ted Lieu of Redondo Beach, soon to be representing Santa Monica’s district, was for it as well, and supportive of our other efforts to conserve the environment. Senator Tom Harman seemed on the fence over the subject, as he did not see the need to ban something that can be easily cleaned up on beaches if need be, although he did vote yes on the polystyrene ban.
Overall, we were able to get our message across over why we need this ban and how it could affect the economy, the population of California, and the wildlife. Some senators and assemblymen proved to be more supportive then the others, but they all heard us out and posed questions. Those that were not in favor of a statewide ban did support a municipality by municipality effort to ban the bags, however some were not ready for the official ban as a whole state. The trip was a whole was eye opening and educational, as the politicians depicted exactly how these events play out everyday. Hopefully the ban will be successful and California can be the first and most environmentally aware state of the fifty so far.

Car Conversion Update 3/13/12

We have successfully installed most of the parts onto the car and connected the wired harness to the respected parts. The Pot Box (a variable resister the converts the motion of the throttle peddle to an electric signal) was tricky to install at first. The throttle cable was smaller then the grips needed to connect it to the pot box. We solved this by cutting a thin piece of rubber from an old car hood and rolled it on the throttle cable. This allows the clamps to hold the cable with enough pressure to withstand a fast pull. Another problem we faced was that the pot box was not exerting a strong enough force to pull the peddle back to restore it to its original position. We fixed this by lowering the clamp on the lever closer to the point of rotation.

Connecting the wires from the controller harness was a real mess at first. We had to figure out where every thing went while trying to organize it. It was a very interesting experience. It took a lot of double checking the circuit diagram to make sure I was cutting the right wire and connecting it to the right terminal. After a few days we finished the wiring, leaving it organized allowing it to run along the wall of the trunk. A lot of extra wiring was left over so we bundled it up and left it on the side next to the motor controller. We connected the 12v contacter to the key switch and ground of the car and it made a popping sound indicating that it worked! We had to take out the rug temporarily to run the key switch wire and display wire under it to the front of the car.

Now we are working on assembling the wires that will transmute the high wattage from the batteries to the controller and then to the motor. The wires arrived yesterday and today we were able to cut them to the right size, strip the ends and connect the terminal posts to most of them.The terminal posts contained a little grease with copper particles to help with conductivity. Tomorrow we are going to finish crimping the terminals onto the wires and sliding in a shrink wrap to protect the bare wire. very exiting.

Car Conversion Update 2/29/12

The conversion process is gaining speed as the community becomes increasingly aware of the VW beetle. Since the article on the bug was released two weeks ago in the Santa Monica Daily Press we have been getting a lot of support and feedback from the community, mainly about donations to help buy the batteries. In terms of the actual process we have done leaps and bounds we have successfully installed two very sturdy platforms next to the motor. This platforms will hold vital components of the cars main electrical system such as the motor controller, DC-DC converter, Pot-Box, and the 24V contacter. We have also been assembling a Lithium battery packs donated by Trexa, we are going to use this battery to test out the electrical components and to see if everything is working.  We are very exited about this progress because we are getting closer and closer to completing the car. All we need, after bolting down the components, is to wire them up and turn the key switch on.