A few weeks ago, I led eleven members of Santa Monica High School’s Heal the Bay club through a series of water quality tests at the Santa Monica Pier. As president of the club, I try hard to find new educational projects our members can partake in outside of the standard classroom we meet in every week. With the help of a few Heal the Bay staff members, I decided on an “ecosystems” project. Through presentations, vid-
eos, guest speakers, and weekend field trips, we learn about the diversity of various habitats as well as what we can do to counter the negative human impacts that are endangering the fragile ecosystems.
Our first ecosystem was our very own Santa Monica Bay. On a sunny Saturday morning, eleven club members met on the beach right next to the Santa Monica pier and ran three different water quality tests: zinc, copper, and hardness (mineral content). The copper and zinc tests were successful. They both showed normal levels of each metal, which was surprising considering the site was right next to a parking lot – the main source of the metals entering the natural environment. Additionally, it had rained two days prior to our tests, which would usually produce higher levels of runoff. The hardness was too difficult to survey given the greater abundance of minerals in ocean water as compared to freshwater, which the kit was designed for.
This experience was enlightening in that it taught students how to test for results, introduced them to the frustrating nature of science, and instilled a ne-
wfound curiosity that is hard to teach in a typical classroom setting. After we finished testing, members hypothesized reasons as to why the levels of copper and zinc in the water were much lower than we were expecting. One member argued that maybe the heavy rain diluted the toxic metals that were present while another member suggested that perhaps there weren’t many pollutants to begin with, because of restrictive legislation passed by concerned citizens and policymakers. The tests were fun and engaging, but for the next ecosystem, we are hoping to get different kinds of kits so that we can test a wider range of characteristics.
In our debrief the following week, various club members who went expressed their enthusiasm about the water quality testing. Some members were interested in the science and chemistry behind the tests. Others were more interested in the application of the tests and how the data could be useful in future toxicity reports. The club members who participated left with a new curiosity and perspective on the ocean that they visit so often.
On October 15, 2018, 15 members of MKHS Heal the Bay went to Torrance Beach for Coastal Cleanup Day. The club had partnered with a Torrance Pharmaceutical Company, Bachem. Bachem gave free t shirts to all of its volunteer employees and offered them to the club members as well. This helped club members and employees bond over service.
After listening to a safety talk, the organizers informed us that they hid 3 golden starfish out in the beach for us to find. If we found these starfish, we would receive a prize. We couldn’t wait until we could get on the beach to start looking for those starfish. We agreed to split up into groups and meet up at 11:30 at the top. The organizers gave us burlap-like trash bags to gather our trash in. These trash bags were emptied of their trash in a trash can and reused for new volunteers, reducing accumulating trash. There were already many people out on the beach cleaning up when we started. It was difficult to find trash on that beach, which was amazing. The city of Torrance kept a well-maintained and clean beach. My group of 3 looked in the clumps of seaweed to find trash, and found many tiny bits of Styrofoam. But there was not much trash that was visible. As we were walking around the coastline, we bumped into many other groups who were cleaning up, including people from high school environmental classes, Boeing, Honda, and elementary classes. While the club members and majority of beach volunteers focused on finding trash to pick up on the beach and finding the starfish, my parents walked up to the beach parking lot. They were surprised to see how much trash was up there, compared to the small amount of trash down at the beach. They filled their bag with trash within 10 minutes. Meanwhile, my group was still searching for trash down at the beach. We found a dinosaur toy a kid left behind and the bottom part of a shoe. Time passed by very quickly and soon it was 11:30. The club members met up at a booth to turn in our trash bags. As a thank-you for volunteering, the City of Torrance allowed us to choose one of 3 environmentally friendly gifts: a reusable metal straw with a pipe cleaner, a set of bamboo utensils, or a t-shirt that said “Save Our Beaches.” We were also given a voucher for a taco-truck lunch. During lunch, the employees from Bachem and the members from MKHS Heal the Bay were able to bond some more. We thanked them for allowing us to partner up with them for Coastal Cleanup Day.
The project made club members realize how much clean environments should be respected and maintained. I have always enjoyed participating in community cleanups, and was glad to share the experience with many of the club members. Our club would like to thank the Bachem company again for letting us work with them.
My name is Danielle Furuichi and I am the new Programs Coordinator at Heal the Bay. It makes me so happy to see your commitment and enthusiasm for protecting and advocating
for the ocean. I met some of you at our Chasing Coral event, and I am looking forward to working with all of you on your projects and sharing your passion for the environment!
A little bit about me: Growing up near the beach, I have always loved the ocean and been fascinated by all of its inhabitants. I always spent my weekends at the beach, and I missed the ocean like crazy while I went to school in the Midwest. After graduating from Indiana University in 2016, I traveled all around Europe and then finally returned home to Los Angeles. I became a teacher and began volunteering at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. From there, I connected with Heal the Bay, and I could not be more excited to work with all of you! On the weekends, you can catch me rock climbing, hiking, and surfing–or at least attempting to surf.
This Saturday (4/28) is the City Nature Challenge: Malibu Lagoon Bioblitz!! The City Nature Challenge is all about competing with other major cities to see who can make the most observations of nature and find the most species. This is an awesome chance to meet people, learn about our environment, AND earn Club Drops! You can register and learn more about this event on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/city-nature-challenge-2018-malibu-lagoon-bioblitz-tickets-44574529618
– Danielle (:
Author: Mayra Acevedo
Club: ECO Club at STEAM Legacy High School
My club is the ECO Club, and early in the morning we were all very excited to go out and collect the garbage that builds up on the beach. My club members were very motivated so right when we got to the beach everyone wanted to get started. After we had our first safety talk, we split up into our groups where we got our hands dirty to clean up the beach. After about 2 hours we came together to see our progress and all the trash we collected and compared data cards, and at the end we through the garbage and way in a trash can!
We found more straws then we though we would but all in all it was a great time. I believe we could get more of our members to attend next time, but it was a great experience. It made my club members feel like they were truly making a difference!
Find ECO Club on Instagram!: @eco.steam0210
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Watch this video for an introduction to the Club Heal the Bay Partnership Program, then register your club using the link below.
Club Heal the Bay members receive awards and certificates to recognize all their green work for the 2015-16 school year.
Congratulations Clubs! A Club Heal the Bay Year in Review
By Jenn Swart, Youth Coordinator with Heal the Bay
Summertime and the livin’s easy! What a great time to look back on all of your achievements this year. Continue reading