Clark’s EcoNarcs 3.0 win first place in the Lexus Eco Challenge


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“It has been a really fun experience, and, money aside, it has helped me realize that this is a field that I might potentially pursue,” said EcoNarcs 3.0 team member senior Sandra Gadalla when asked about their first place win in the Land and Water Challenge of the Lexus Eco Challenge competition. “This challenge wasn’t one of those where everyone goes on the same day and competes,” Gadalla said.

The challenge consists of three parts and each portion takes up to two months to complete. During that time, the team had to finish the entire project which included field work, outreach, and the final completion of their action plan which would document all the work they put into the project. The project is part of the Environmental GIS class curriculum taught by Dominique Evans-Bye, who was the advisor throughout the competition.

Evans-Bye and the seven members of the team set the goal of observing an invasive algae called Sargassum horneri and voicing their studies about its benefits to humans. “We decided to take a trip to Catalina to get samples of sargassum horneri for the lab tests,” said team member Anna Parsamyan. “The team was not nervous and snorkeled to gather the data,” Evans-Bye said. “One of the team members, Anna, was excited to put on her gear and go in the water but she came out of the water a few minutes later.” Parsamyan said that she is scared of the ocean so she could not stay in the water for too long.

For the final challenge, they had more in depth studies and teamed up with diving clubs and researchers to gather data when they took the trip to Catalina Feb. 10. In order to share their findings with others, the team went to elementary, middle and high schools in GUSD to present their project.

For their winning project, the team received $15,000. The prize was distributed with $3,000 given to the school, $2,000 prize awarded directly to the mentor, and the remaining $10,000 was split evenly between all the students who took part in the project.

“I’m glad for taking part in this and collaborating with a hard working and dedicated team and I’m happy that our hard work was rewarded,” Gadalla said.