For a few lucky Orange County students, Oceanography 101 is about to get really exciting. Surf industry giant Quiksilver recently teamed up with Southern California’s Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) to create Quikscience, a program geared to raise awareness and interest in ocean science among young students. Quikscience is a multi-stage program whereby students actively seek to enhance their own scientific interests while improving school curriculum. The program is comprised of a number of teams, which seek excellence by competing against each other in a number of activities. First, each team must perform an evaluative audit of the current science curriculum in place in their schools. Then, each team will seek for ways to enhance their school’s science curriculum. After completing a community service project related to the ocean, each team will submit an artistic portfolio of their efforts, to be judged by a panel of scientists, artists, athletes and teachers. The artistic portfolios allow for aesthetically pleasing presentations, and serve as a reminder to young students that seemingly disparate disciplines often share much in common and shouldn’t be considered totally disjointed.

COSEE’s Dr. Judy Lemus, a Ph.D at the University of Southern California worked extensively with various representatives from Quiksilver, the main sponsor of the program, to get the project up and running. Lemus sees Quikscience as a healthy, liberating extension of many kids’ natural scientific curiosities. “The partnership is intended to use kids’ inherent love of the sea as an entry point to enhance their awareness about the ocean,” explains Dr. Lemus, “and to help improve science and environmental education.”

In early April, the six final teams will convene at Quiksilver’s headquarters, where the champion and runner-up teams will be decided. The team with the second place finish will spend a weekend at USC’s Wrigley Marine Science Center, located on Catalina Island. The team with the winning portfolio will look forward to spending a week aboard the 72-foot Indies Trader, a legendary vessel famous for its travels as the boat of Quiksilver’s Crossing. The team will travel to the Caribbean and work closely with young children from a select middle school in the Bahamas. This presents an opportunity for a unique cultural exchange, whereby kids from different cultures will team up to enjoy everything from laboratory studies to snorkeling.

Future plans for Quikscience include a general enlargement of the program’s size and scope. “Although the competition this year is for 7th and 8th graders,” says Lemus, “we hope to expand the program to reach all grade levels in future years. We also hope to increase the number of teachers that we reach through our COSEE programs.” Dr. Lemus is thoroughly optimistic and excited for the program’s future. “In the long run, I think this program will produce a population of students in Southern California that are scientifically informed and involved, and are prepared to become leaders in their communities.” –Josh Kimball