By Brandon HENSLEY
Dominique Evans-Bye’s hard work as teacher is literally paying off.
The Clark Magnet High School science teacher is on a bit of a roll as of late, capped off this month by her and five of her students winning $70,000 and the top prize in the fourth annual Lexus Eco Challenge.
The competition, designed to inspire and empower students to learn about the environment through real-world applications with challenges testing the students’ knowledge using chemistry, math and computer technology.
Evan-Bye’s dedication as a teacher is now benefitting the school as well as the students.
Clark Principal Doug Dall called Evans-Bye a “great teacher,” and said she does well teaching practical projects.
“It’s very Clark-like,” Dall said of the school’s success in the competition. “Clark is a school that does very hands-on activities that are real-world.”
The winning students were Yeprem Chavdarian, Edward Kazaryan, Steve Kechichina, Tania Khanlari and Brian Higgins, although Dall made it a point to say there are around 90 students in the class who participated in field trips and did research. Those five students however have been more involved for a couple years now and have taken intermediate classes in environmental science.
“My class is really about field work and getting the kids out on the boat,” said Evans-Bye, who has been teaching at Clark for 11 years.
The Clark team, called the Eco Savers, won two challenges worth $10,000. The first challenge, held last fall, was a Land/Water Challenge and addressed the threat of pollution to waterways and oceans.
The team had lobster tissue donated to them and formed a partnership with the Institute for Integrated Research in Materials, Environments and Society (IIRMES) and CSU Long Beach, where they tested tissue samples in a lab.
The other challenge had them map out flood risks in the La Crescenta and foothill areas.
The Eco Savers are familiar with a program called Hazus-MH. According to FEMA’s website, is a “nationally applicable standardized methodology that contains models for estimating potential losses from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.”
Evans-Bye is one of two practitioner-level instructors on Hazus-MH in California.
After totaling $50,000, Lexus of Glendale donated an extra $20,000. The money will help with college scholarships for the students and will fund a lot of science needs for Evans-Bye.
“Basically it’s going toward field trips and more testing, more tissue sample testing … and equipment for the class,” she said.
“I’m very proud of the kids, I’m proud of her,” said Dall. This is emblematic of what we do here at Clark; it’s real-world experience. It’s very project-based.”
“They put a huge effort into this. I’ve seen their confidence go way up,” Evans-Bye said.
The Eco Savers’ win wasn’t the first good news of the year for Evans-Bye. In March, she was one of 10 teachers across the country to be named to the Society for Science & the Public’s class of 2011.
Those teachers are named SSP Fellows for “their unique plans to reach students in underserved communities and to inspire excellence in independent scientific research,” according to a press release from the Glendale Unified School District.
Evans-Bye will receive $8,500 this year to put to her classes. She said she was amazed and grateful because she thought funding for her classes might be cut.
“This funds my field research, this funds the kids getting out to the islands,” she said. “And collecting data in the marine environment.”