Marquez Robotics Team Winning, Saving the Ocean

Elementary students learning science, competition and teamwork 

By Chad Winthrop

A robotics team of elementary school students in Pacific Palisades is not only winning competitions but also coming up with innovations that could help get rid of pollution in the ocean.  

Marquez Charter Elementary School’s Robtix Team was founded in the 2018-2019 school year and is led by three dedicated teachers: Ms. Akiko Arevalo, Ms. Clare Gardner and Ms. Julie Yoshida and consists of three co-ed teams of 4th and 5th graders. 

“In robotics we do multiple things: programming, building and STEM research. We have also learned to work with a green screen to present our research project. It has been a great learning opportunity. It is very fun but it is also hard work so it is not just fun and games,” said Robtix team member Eleanor Buckner. 

The team has 13 students currently participating in the program divided into teams: Marquez Blue, Red and Yellow that meet after school and participate in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Local District West competitions. 

“This is my second year on the team. I have been learning about engineering and coding robots. If you have a creative mind and you are also competitive, you would like robotics,” said team member Brett Rosenblatt. 

The team’s first LAUSD District West League competition of the year was held at Mark Twain Middle School on Monday, October 7, 2019 in which Marquez ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd among the 20 teams that competed. As recent as, Monday, November 4th, 2019 Marquez competed in the LAUSD West VEX IQ League and teams Red placed 2nd, Blue placed 4th and Yellow placed 5th. 

“We are learning about teamwork. Our research project is about how robots are helping to get rid of pollution in the ocean.”

Lilou Hashemi and Amelia Halpin

“We are learning about teamwork. Our research project is about how robots are helping to get rid of pollution in the ocean. Driving the robot is frustrating but fun. We learned that practice helps us improve our scores,” said team members Lilou Hashemi and Amelia Halpin. 

In fact, a robotic device that will soon be deployed in the Ballona Creek will do exactly what Hashemi and Halpin were referring to. 

Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Janice Hahn and representatives from the Holland-based nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup recently announces a pilot project designed to sharply reduce the amount of plastic, litter and other trash escaping from the 8.8-mile-long Ballona Creek. The new technology will be the first of its kind in North America, using solar-power engineering to harvest floating waste and debris from a waterway that empties into the Santa Monica Bay and some of LA County’s most popular beaches. During storms, the creek receives an influx of trash and urban runoff from city streets.

Interceptor 002 in the Klang River, Selangor, Malaysia. Photo: The Ocean Cleanup.

“To truly rid the oceans of plastic, we need to both clean up the legacy and close the tap, preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place. Combining our ocean cleanup technology with the Interceptor, the solutions now exist to address both sides of the equation,” said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup.

The autonomous Interceptor is the first scalable solution to intercept river plastic pollution and can be deployed around the world. It is capable of extracting 50,000 kg of trash per day – even reaching 100,000 kg per day under optimized conditions. Only two Interceptors are operating throughout the world in Jakarta, Indonesia and Klang, Malaysia.

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