Students challenge the QuikSCience Challenge

David Olvera-Sanchez

(October 17, 2012) — Hoping to fulfill their successful reputation as contest winners, students from Dominique Evans-Bye’s Marine Science class are trying their luck by competing in the USC-sponsored QuikSCience Challenge. Assigned the challenge in mid-September, the Marine Science students separated themselves into groups in order to research their individualized projects and compose a research proposal about them. Evans-Bye said that she chose to have her students participate in the Marine science-based contest, because it was an “opportunity to teach her students to be able to pull together scientific ideas and concisely communicate them in a scientific paper.” According to its official website, The QuikSCience Challenge is a competition for middle and high school students to create projects that research issues related to marine or freshwater environments. The contest consists of an environmental solution to their proposed issue, a research proposal, a community service project, a two-minute video clip, and team reflections. However, as per new contest rules, Evans-Bye and each science teacher can register up to two teams to compete by the end of October. According to Evans-Bye, these new rules differed from last years’ which only allowed each school to register up to two teams. In order to decide what teams she would register, Evans-Bye assigned only the proposals portion due on October 1st in order to evaluate which teams had the best research and project idea. As an extra incentive for participating, Evans-Bye informed her students that the first-place winners of the QuikSCience Challenge will receive a week-long trip to Catalina Island with their advisor as well as $500 for classroom supplies and research development. According to the official QuikSCience website, “During their excursion, students will be able to explore the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center and different parts of Catalina island, snorkel, kayak, and hike.” This week-long expedition on the Catalina Islands motivated junior Christian Mendoza to want to win the QuikSCience Challenge. “Of course I would like to win the grand prize and go to Catalina,” commented Mendoza, “but I also feel that a healthy environment should be important to us humans.” Researching how an increase in oceanic noise pollution from boats and sonar affects marine life, Mendoza and his group members proved their hypothesis by noting the decline in dolphin populations and the disruption of communication habits caused by the noise pollution. After tough deliberation, Evans-Bye selected one group from each of her two Marine Science classes to submit for her nominations to the QuikSCience Challenge. The Period 1 finalists selected were juniors Vahe Eliasyan, Eric Kirakosian, Sevag Bosnoyan, and Arno Aghababyan for their project on the decrease in population of the black sea bass and possible solutions to this pressing issue. Period 2 finalists selected were sophomore Virginia Aviles and juniors Jennifer Chavando, Anna Hakopian, and Arzviek Moradian for their project on sea kelp restoration. These selected winners will continue to work on the other components of the QuikSCience Challenge in the following months. “Even if students don’t win the overall competition,” Evans-Bye added, “they will be able to learn more about today’s marine science issues and be able to pursue their projects next year in the Environmental GIS class.” Evans-Bye added that participation in this competition could also be beneficial towards students hoping to apply to USC and looking for another accomplishment to add to their college résumé. Winners of the QuikSCience Challenge will be announced in April 2013.