Students Tackle Environmental Issues Through the QuikSCience Challange

Over the last ten years, the USC Wrigley Institute was pleased to offer a science competition known as the QuikSCience Challenge, thanks to generous sponsorship from Quiksilver Inc.—an international producer and distributor of surfing apparel—and the Quiksilver Foundation. From 2003 to 2013, the QuikSCience Challenge helped spark the interest of middle and high school students in science and in marine and freshwater environments, and also enhanced the students’ leadership skills.

Teams of up to six students chose an environmental issue and developed research proposals for scientific studies and creative solutions. Underlying topics varied from engineering, environmental science, earth science, architecture, and ocean science. The students also put together lesson plans on their topics that they taught to other classes and carried out community service projects. Each year, the teams wrapped up the competition with creative presentations to a panel of judges and a recognition ceremony at the Quiksilver headquarters in Huntington Beach, CA.

All the QuikSCience teams received a daylong trip to USC’s Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, but winning teams and their advisers received a week-long expedition to the island. This first place trip featured treks to different parts of the island, visits to research laboratories, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking. The second place prize for winning high school and middle school teams was a shorter weekend trip to the island.

The Wrigley Institute was proud to partner with Quiksilver in offering this program. Hundreds of middle school and high school students participated in the QuikSCience Challenge each year during its ten-year duration, including entries from as far away as Hawaii, Guam, and Idaho. On top of that, the QuikSCience Challenge grew to receive national attention as an innovative model for inspiring middle and high school students to engage in environmental science.

For more information about the QuikSCience program, please contact Lynn Whitley at lwhitley@usc.edu.


  • USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies
  • 3616 Trousdale Parkway, AHF 410
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-0371