Scenes from Schools: Port of Los Angeles High School

March 21, 2012

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"Scenes from Schools" is an occasional piece on the CCSA News Blog that offers a glimpse at the tremendous work taking place on charter school campuses across California. Today's "Scenes" is a series of vignettes from Port of Los Angeles High School's Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science Program. To view pictures to accompany the text, click here.

Biodiversity Comparison Lab
For this lab, AP Environmental Science students used quadrants to measure the biodiversity in the tide pools and sandy beach ecosystems. They recorded how much life they saw in the quadrants in each ecosystem and explained why the tide pool ecosystem is more diverse. Returning back to campus, they completed a writing assignment discussing the importance of preserving biodiversity throughout the world.

Effects of Water Quality on Kelp
Students spent a class period learning about different sea water tests at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. They put their knowledge into practice testing the water and noting the conditions of the kelp the following week. Two days later, the class went to Catalina Island to complete the same tests and observe kelp while kayaking. Students also hiked the Catalina hills to learn about endemic and invasive species on the island, in addition to conservation and restoration efforts.

Water Treatment Facility
The class went to the LA County Joint Water Pollution Control Plant in Carson to learn about how wastewater is treated before it is sent out to the ocean.

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge
On a recent trip to the SBNWR, students learned about the purpose of a National Wildlife Refuge, compared to a National Wilderness Area, National Forest, and National Park. They also learned about endemic, endangered, & invasive species there, as well as conservation efforts for different animals in the SBNWR.

Earlier in the year, students went to the canals around the Ballona Wetlands to study the same topics, as well as restoration efforts to return the area to its more natural state that existed before the introduction of the canals in the early 1900s.

Upcoming Spring Semester Trips

  1. San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant to learn about nuclear energy
  2. SA Recycling to learn about waste management and recycling
  3. Mono Lake, a 5 day trip to learn about water issues in California, importance of the Mono Basin, endangered & endemic species in the area, fresh water testing, and the unique Mono Lake ecosystem. Last year, the class participated in 2 projects, one to restore a damaged hiking trail, & the other to remove invasive species along the shore of the lake.
  4. Portside Cleaners to learn about the economics of being environmentally friendly, as well as pollution issues with dry cleaners.
  5. Harbor Cruise focusing on environmental issues within the Port of LA.

The Port of Los Angeles High School (POLAHS) is an independent, college preparatory charter high school located in San Pedro. The 950 students currently enrolled in grades 9 through 12 attend the school tuition-free. POLAHS administration, faculty, and Board of Trustees are driven by a mission stating that all students will graduate from high school, will be prepared and motivated for college, and will be introduced to coursework and career opportunities in International Business and Maritime Studies. For more information, visit

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