CONTACT:  Benjamin Kay, teacher                 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.395.3204                                                     16 APR 2012



SAMOHI Students saving the PLANET – one car at a time!


Santa Monica High School’s "Car Team" students of Team Marine won 1st Place out of thirty-five high schools in the 2011-12 QuikSCience Challenge, a regional environmental science ocean stewardship competition sponsored by USC and Quiksilver Inc.  


Students Patricio Guerrero, Cassandra Kliewer, Ivan Morales, Annie Wiesenfeld, Angelina Hwang, Justin Taraf, and Kalon Cheung were honored on April 5, 2012, at Quiksilver Headquarters in Huntington Beach in front several hundred people.  The students won a week-long educational adventure trip to the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina, a cash prize, and other Quiksilver merchandise.  This past week, co-captain Patricio Guerrero, was also selected an Earth Month Hero by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota


Since the beginning of the school year, “Car Team” students have worked to convert a 1971 red convertible VW Super Beetle into a 100% electric vehicle (short video).  With their zero emission car awaiting its final step (installation of the battery pack), the students’ “lesson plan on wheels” will soon be wrapped with the logos of all sponsors and showcased across LA County at schools and community events to promote cleaner alternative transportation. The VW was kindly donated by the Samohi Poon-Fear family a few years ago for the purpose of this conversion project.  Team Marine is poised to be among the first, if not the first teen group in the USA to complete a lithium ion battery pack electric vehicle that will run over a 100 miles on a single charge.   


In addition to the car, the students partnered with Alliance for Climate Education to conduct a two-month long energy audit of etn teachers at the high school and later provided breakfast everyday for a week for the teacher who reduced energy consumption the most.  As part of their competition, they also went to Lincoln and John Adams Middle Schools to educate youth about the problems of and solutions to climate change and ocean acidification.


Founded in 2006-07 by students and Marine Biology teacher/coach, Benjamin Kay, Team Marine is a group of environmentally aware teens from Santa Monica High School who meet several days each week after school to compete in inter-high school science competitions.  They conduct ecological research, assemble eco-artwork, engage in marine advocacy, and partake in and organize various service learning and educational outreach events in the community to raise awareness.  Learn more through the students' newly revamped website and blog, which recently passed 225,000 views:


Team Marine has participated in the QuikSCience Challenge four of the last six years finishing first, second, or third place each year.  They've also competed successfully in the Edison Challenge, Solar Cup, and the LA County Science Fair.


Team Marine thanks Dan Cox (auto shop teacher at Samohi and SMC), Mr. Rick Sikes (Fleet Superintendent, City of Santa Monica), Paul Pearson (President of Gas-to-Electric Conversions), Reverend Gadget (CEO of Left Coast Electric), Seth Seaberg (CEO of TREXA), Paul Scott and Chris Paine (EV Experts, Plug In America), Alliance for Climate Education, and Teen Nickelodeon for technical and/or financial assistance.


Student Contacts: Patricio Guerrero ( and Cassandra Kliewer (




For high-resolution photos, contact Benjamin Kay at 





1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138