CONTACT:Kurt Holland, teacher††††††††††††††††††† FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.396.2640, ext. 77472†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 20 APR 2012





Note: The students mentioned below generated this press release using writing skills they learned during their project.


Over the past 6 months, student scientists from Santa Monica Alternative School Houseís middle school participated in and won a science competition, competing with high achieving teams from across North America, Hawaii, and Guam. This competition is a national Marine Science contest, brought together by USC and QuikSilver, called QuikSCience. (The capital SC emphasizing USCís involvement in the project).  This contest is open to anyone grades 6-12th.


This student action teamís diligent work paid off on April 5th when a crowd of three hundred scientists and local conservationists witnessed Team Steelhead earn first place in the 2012 Middle School QuikSCience Challenge because of their tremendous efforts.  The group was honored at the annual QuikSCience recognition event at the QuikSilver headquarters in Huntington Beach.  They received a cash reward of $700.  On top of that, Devin Dempsey, Emma Green, Fiona Story, Kayla Palleiko, Mackenzie Varner, Maya Reimer, and Naomi Miller-Altuner will experience a seven day educational trip on Catalina Island in June.


There were many requirements to this project.  Some of these are teaching lessons to students, reaching out to the community, as well as doing a service for the community.  There are also many writing aspects to this project, including a lesson plan, environmental challenge and solution, and a written community service plan.  The students learned a lot through doing these pieces, some of which was very helpful research knowledge.


Throughout this project the SMASH students accomplished many tasks.  Not only were these accomplishments academic, but also included involvement with the community.  Through visiting the Malibu Creek, talking to people at local Farmerís Markets, teaching lessons to other students, and writing multiple newspaper articles, this team reached out to over 169,000 people.  One of the most rewarding experiences of this challenge was when the students got the chance to conduct surveys in Malibu Creek.  This adventure offered a hands on experience for everyone.  It was incredible for the team to actually see and conduct research in person.  


In addition, two of the students had the amazing opportunity to attend a high school writing seminar to learn how to improve their writing techniques.  Writing a research proposal is a high school only requirement, however the middle school team wanted to go above and beyond.  At this seminar, they were the only middle school students.  They gained wonderful and helpful knowledge on writing a high school-style paper.  At first they were a little confused because there were a lot of new concepts, ideas, and citing that needed to be done.  However, the seminar members helped them out and supported them.  In this experience they got to talk to the high school teams and really expand their project.


Unlike the teamís initial intentions, the project did not go completely as planned.  The team experienced many instances of procrastination.  The students spent a large amount of time on the computers as opposed to getting out into the community and making a difference.  Fortunately they recognized this issue, and were able to quickly work it out, in time to complete an award winning project.


QuikSCience was a life changing experience for everyone on the team.  It taught these seven middle school students invaluable life skills.  From learning new writing styles, to cooperating in groups, these students learned, and are so thankful for this amazing experience.


The team would like to thank their teachers, mentors, and everyone else along the way that encouraged these students to succeed.



Team Email-

Emma Green, team member-

Mackenzie Varner, team member-
Devin Dempsey, team member-†††
Kayla Palleiko, team member-
Maya Reimer, team member-
Naomi Miller-Altuner, team member-
Fiona Story, team member-  
Kurt Holland, adult support guide-
Darwin Mendinueto, adult support guide-




1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138