By Kevork KURDOGHLIAN
Issa Al Hadeed, a 12th grade student at Clark Magnet High School and member of the Enviros team, described teacher Dominique Evans-Bye’s class as being “different.”
“It’s one of those special classes,” he said. “It’s very different from a high school class, so [that] is why I joined it.”
Evans-Bye’s display of a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) in a pool outside her classroom at Clark’s 11th Annual Open House on Jan. 25 only scratched the surface of the many successful scientific projects she has conducted with her students.
Evans-Bye is a biology teacher at Clark who was recently selected as educator of the year by the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce. In addition to her role as teacher, she advises groups of students who conduct and prepare environmental projects to compete in various ecological challenges. The two teams of students, the EcoNarcs and the Enviros, recently competed in Lexus Eco Challenge and won a total of $30,000.
The EcoNarcs competed in the Lexus Land and Water Challenge with a project about marijuana eradication. The project was meant to debunk false notions about the benefits of marijuana and highlighted the environmental and health hazards marijuana poses to communities.
“[Marijuana growers] are using a ton of [illegal] pesticides. They’re bringing in DDT from Mexico, they’re using really strong chemicals and rodenticides on those crops. Then it’s going to market and people are bringing it and smoking it and nobody is thinking about that,” said Evans-Bye.
She also noted marijuana growth sites kill native plants, cause erosion and that the intensive usage of fertilizers, which get transported to the ocean as runoff, cause unnatural algal blooms in the ocean.
The EcoNarcs also competed in Lexus’s Air and Climate Challenge, in which they submitted a project on the impact car pollution has in the production of acid rain and acid rain’s impact on the environment.
In a video published about this project on the group’s YouTube channel, Clark student Anna Dadurian said, “[What] Clark Magnet High School environmental GIS team is trying to get across is that making little choices, such as getting more fuel efficient cars, can greatly impact the environment and stop acid rain from occurring.”
The next major undertaking for Evans-Bye and her students is the issue of marine debris, an issue that the group has worked on for some time.
The group recently received a three-year, $100,000 grant from State Farm to conduct research on marine debris. By partnering with groups like the Rozalia Foundation, Clark students have had the opportunity to work with professional marine biologists, gain access to their data and analyze the trash that reaches oceans.
Al Hadeed said the goal of the project is to “try to find out what impact marine debris has on the ecosystem.”
“Marine debris is a serious issue,” he added. “It’s not just something that you can let get out of hand.”
Evans-Bye noted that the goal of the students’ public service campaign is to “let people know [that] even if they improperly discard a plastic bottle [30 miles inland], it will blow into gutters, it’ll go down storm drains, it will make its way to the ocean.”
She and her students have used their ROVs on data collection trips off the coast of California at Anacapa Island. They made their most recent trip on Sept. 28, 2013.
To read more about the projects submitted to the Lexus Eco Challenge, visit lexus.scholastic.com.