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Featured Research


Student Researchers Receive Top Awards

It was an exciting school year for CMA student researchers who received top awards for their science projects. In particular Brian Zhang, a sophomore at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, placed first in the Earth Sciences category at the California State Science Fair!

For his project, Brian tested whether it was possible to build a self sufficient estuary in the lab. Why? Because estuaries are uniquely sheltered areas where rivers and streams meet the sea, providing crucial habitat for larval animals, small fish and a host of other wildlife that thrives in this special environment. Creating a self sufficient estuary could foster the growth of young animals by simulating their natural habitat.

Using a tank in the Aquatic Nursery, Brian started constructing an estuary from the bottom up. When the basic elements were ready such as mud, water, plants and a pump that simulated the tide, he started introducing animals based on where they fit on the food chain. First he added the smallest organisms including bacteria and algae.

“Brian added animals representing each section of the food chain throughout the school year,” said CMA Research Curator Kiersten Darrow. “He worked his way from single cell organisms to larval animals to burrowing worms to mussels and oysters up through his final addition…fish.”

After all the animals were in place, he started monitoring the health of the estuary using a data sonde, a device that collects information on waste output, dissolved oxygen rates, nitrate and ammonia levels and salinity. Healthy ocean animals was one great indicator things were going well, but data collected confirmed that the estuary was fully functioning and in sync with the rhythm and balance of a natural habitat.

“We’re thrilled with Brian’s accomplishment and that his hard work was recognized by judges at every science fair he participated in,” said Darrow. “Every time one of our student researchers succeeds, it shows that our Young Scientist Program is working. We’re setting students on a path for long-term success as they pursue science careers.”

Below is a list of CMA student researchers and their achievements:

Brian Zhang, 10th grader at PV Peninsula High School
1st place, Earth Sciences at the California State Science Fair
2nd place, Ecology at the LA County Science Fair
3rd place, Environmental Science at PV Peninsula District Science Fair
Special Awards
Southern California Paleontological Society Award for Academic Excellence
Stockholm Jr. Water Prize Award

Albert Barrios, 10th grader at King Drew Medical Magnet
Honorable Mention, Environmental Management for research on sea anemone distribution at Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Science Fair
Special Awards
Stockholm Jr. Water Prize Award
California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS) Science Achievement Award

Annie Benedict, 9th grader at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
2nd place, Zoology at Palos Verdes Peninsula District Science Fair
Special Award
US Naval Science Award

Miguel Carias, 7th grader at South Gate Middle School
2nd place, Behavioral Sciences for research on abalone feeding behavior at LACOE Science Fair

Jesse Leal, 7th grader at South Gate Middle School
Honorable Mention, Behavioral Sciences for research on sea urchin feeding behavior at LACOE Science Fair

Lauren Lee, 10th grader at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
3rd place, Zoology at Palos Verdes Peninsula District Science Fair

Cheyenne Newallis, 10th grader at San Pedro High School
3rd place, Animal Physiology for research on swell shark breeding seasons at LACOE Science Fair
Special Award
So. Cal. Paleontological Society Award for Academic Excellence
Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Finalist

Jacob Partida, 12th grader at San Pedro High School
3rd place, Animal Biology for research on octopus behavior in captivity at LACOE Science Fair
Special Award
Earthwatch Grant for summer research abroad

Adrian Rodriguez, 12th grader at San Pedro High School
Honorable Mention, Animal Biology for research on anemone feeding behavior at LACOE Science Fair

Madison Uetrecht, 12th grader at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
1st place, Zoology at Palos Verdes Peninsula District Science Fair

Isabella Will, 10th grader at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
Special Award
US Naval Science Award

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Featured Research Archive


          6/20/2014 Student Researchers Receive Top Awards (Featured)
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