Valley Vision Magazine & Annual Giving Report | Fall 2021

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Today’s students are very environmentally conscious and focused on sustainability... they want to be part of the solution for a healthier Earth.

Having already piqued student interest with its initial Ocean Discovery programs, the leaders of Applied Math, Science, and Engineering (AMSE) realized they could go, well, deeper with their newest offerings.

In addition to the Marine Life program, AMSE is also piloting its newest XPRIZE team: XPRIZE Carbon. Team members will work together on a multi-year venture as part of a push to fight climate change and rebalance the Earth’s carbon cycle. Student efforts will focus on identifying carbon removal strategies using data collected from land, outer space, and — through AMSE’s partnership with MBARI — the ocean floor. “We really want to turn carbon into something useful,” explains junior Akhil Datla, a lead member of the XPRIZE Carbon team. “It’s a thrill to be a part of a team that’s creative, cooperative, and research-oriented.” Members of the team come from various backgrounds — Datla considers himself an engineer — but they have coalesced over a shared concern of the urgency of their cause. Datla’s junior year began in August as wildfires raged in California and hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast.

Team Ocean Quest is a history-making group of VCS students who conquered overwhelming odds to pursue ocean engineering breakthroughs.

“The Ocean Discovery Marine Life program was added this year at the high school in response to student interest, and to broaden the scope of our ocean-related offerings,” says Danny Kim, Vice President and Director of K-12 AMSE. “We wanted to include the biological and environmental aspects of ocean science.” Riding the wave of the successful experience of the first XPRIZE Ocean Quest team in 2017, AMSE continues to increase its offerings in the area of ocean education. The new Marine Life program is the latest addition to a lineup that includes Elementary Ocean Discovery and Junior High Ocean Discovery and the high school’s Ocean Discovery Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) program. Students will also benefit from an enhanced partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) as AMSE prepares to launch an underwater education node at the bottom of Monterey Bay’s ocean floor. Datla further notes the students’ motivation as he adds, “We recognize that we’re dealing with real-world problems. Seeing the effects of climate change in our country inspires us to be more efficient.” As much as AMSE programs routinely complement students’ math and physics classes, they continue to blend traditional academic pursuits with students’ growing awareness of a transforming globe. “Today’s students are very environmentally conscious and focused on sustainability,” Kim says. “They are very interested in solving problems on a global scale, and they want to be part of the solution for a healthier Earth.”