Santa Monica High School’s “Car Team” students of Team Marine have captured first place in the 2011-12 QuikSCience Challenge, a regional environmental science ocean stewardship competition sponsored by USC and Quiksilver Inc.

Students Patricio Guerrero, Cassandra Kliewer, Ivan Morales, Annie Wiesenfeld, Angelina Hwang, Justin Taraf and Kalon Cheung defeated 34 other schools in the contest in Huntington Beach April 5. The team won a weeklong trip to the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island, a cash prize, and other Quiksilver merchandise.

In addition, co-captain Guerrero was recently selected as Earth Month Hero by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota.

The “Car Team” students had worked since the start of the school year to convert a 1971 red convertible Volkswagen Super Beetle into a 100-percent electric vehicle. Following the project’s completion, the zero-emission car will be showcased across Los Angeles County at schools and community events to promote cleaner alternative transportation, school officials said.

The vehicle was donated by a Samohi family a few years ago for the purpose of the conversion project. The team created a lithium ion battery pack for the electric vehicle to allow it to run over 100 miles on a single charge, according to Team Marine.

As part of their competition, the team members visited Lincoln and John Adams middle schools to educate youth about the problems of and solutions to climate change and ocean acidification.

Team Marine has participated in the QuikSCience Challenge four of the last six years and finished in first, second, or third place each year.

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