Mar. 14, 2012 | Algal Bloom Research at USC

Several agencies including USC Sea Grant, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF), have been working together with community organizations and aquariums to monitor and study water chemistry and algal blooms along our coastline since 2005. The POLAHS Marine Biology classes were invited by USC Sea Grant to participate in this research. The distinct honor gives our high school students the opportunity to work with university professors and graduate students on the POLAHS campus and in the USC laboratory throughout the school year.
Marine Biology students are responsible for collecting plankton samples from a local dock throughout the week, and analyzing the samples by looking for algae presence in the plankton. Students note changes in outside conditions that may affect algal blooms. Thanks to a sponsorship from the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, POLAHS was able to purchase a digital stereo microscope that is used for the research, as well as many other class activities and labs. The sophisticated microscope allows students to take photographs and videos of the samples and e-mail them directly to the USC laboratory.
Instructor Tim Dikdan knows that this rare access to a nationally-recognized research project is of huge benefit to his students, saying, "From the research and collection process to USC lab field trips, our students are experiencing the excitement of what scientists do on a daily basis. You don't typically find these opportunities in a high school setting."
"POLAHS has proven to the community that its innovations in creative learning is not only energizing its students but is creating programs and methods of knowledge for other educational establishments to emulate. KUDOS!"
— President June Smith, Coastal SP Neighborhood Council
Access | Hundreds of POLAHS Marine Biology students at gain hands-on science experience in a university-level marine science research program.
Fulfilling a Community Need | Harmful algal blooms erupt off our coastline year-round. These blooms kill fish, seals, and sea lions. Our students gather and analyze vital information to help save marine wildlife.
Fulfilling a Nation-Wide Need | The percentage of traditionally underserved in science careers in the US is devastatingly low. A quality, hands-on science education is the first step in preparing the next generation for these jobs.