The Young Innovators Accepted the Mission to Save Our Valuable Oceans

LOS ANGELES, CA (Monday, March 5, 2018) - The Downey Unified School District, in partnership with the Carrot Group, announced the winners of the Mission: Impact Challenge – Operation Oceans. In this Challenge, young innovators who attend Downey Unified’s four middle schools were challenged to form teams (two to five students) and develop an innovative and feasible solution to solve a real-world problem facing our valuable oceans.

The winners were announced at the Mission: Impact Challenge Innovation Celebration held at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Speakers included Dr. Jerry Schubel, president and ceo, Aquarium of the Pacific; Jordon Howard, a social good strategist; Dr. Jyotika Virmani, senior director, Energy & Environment, XRIZE; Dr. John Garcia, superintendent, Downey Unified School District; and Phil Davis, director of STEAM programs, Downey Unified School District.

A distinguished panel of five judges, comprised of experts in marine biology and sustainability, reviewed the presentations from each of six finalist teams and selected a Grand Prize winner and two Runner-Up teams. The Challenge submissions were scored based on Originality of their idea; Use and Application of S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) knowledge; Feasibility and Potential Impact.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the three top winning teams and are beyond proud of all the extraordinary young adults within Downey Unified that competed,” said Davis. “This was a difficult challenge and many of students stepped up with remarkable solutions to solve real-world problems. Programs like this help unleash the creative minds of our young innovators and engage them in important STEAM disciplines.”

The three winning teams and their ideas are as follows:

• Grand Prize Team: Stauffer Middle School students Bailey Canham and Evelyn Vaca developed a better and cost-effective storm drain filter to separate garbage from water before emptying into the oceans.

• Runner-Up Team: Sussman Middle School students Peter Manriquez, Victor Plascencia, Jordan Price, and Sebastian Ramirez created a mercury filtering submarine to help clean-up mercury contamination in the oceans.
• Runner-Up Team: Griffiths Middle School students Lindsay Santana, Alondra Simbala, Carlos Simbala, Katie Stocks, and Giovanni Trujillo designed a solution to our overfishing problems using radar, sonar, and a digital database to track fishing and impose penalties for overfishing.

“We are honored to partner with Downey Unified and design the Mission: Impact Challenge around oceans,” said Alan Zack, president of Carrot Group. “It is so important that students understand all the issues surrounding our oceans and take steps to come up with new and innovative ideas to solve them using their STEAM knowledge. We applaud all the teams who competed in this Challenge and the celebrate the winning ideas.”

The Grand Prize team won a once-in-a lifetime trip to San Diego, Calif., to tour some of the most innovative companies focusing on saving and exploring the oceans in addition to seeing the popular sites of the city. Each member of the three winning teams received a prize package comprised of an Amazon Echo, a Thimble STEM Kit and passes the Aquarium of the Pacific. The winning school, Stauffer Middle School, received $600 in gift certificates in science supplies from Flinn Scientific, Carolina Biological Supply Company, and Ward’s Science.

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About the Downey Unified School District
The Downey Unified School District provides a comprehensive curriculum supporting three high schools, four middle schools, 13 elementary schools and one adult school. The district is committed to developing all students to be self-motivated learners and productive, responsible and compassionate members of an ever-changing global society. Our highly qualified staff foster meaningful relationships with students, parents, and the community while providing a relevant and rigorous curriculum in facilities that advance teaching and learning. It is the vision of Downey Unified to have all students graduate with a 21st Century education that ensures they are college and career ready, globally competitive and citizens of strong character.

About Carrot Group
Carrot Group is the leading organization engaging, fostering, and celebrating young innovators to solve real-world problems using science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and FUN. The highly creative and fully customizable programs drive impact and spark a passion for discovery. We design programs for preschool children to college students and we believe in the power of competition to inspire learning, creativity, and innovation. Our programs reward dynamic thinking, perseverance, cooperation, imagination, and ingenuity. Learn more at