Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE - Oil Spill Cleanup Video Contest

As an education outreach project of the broader X CHALLENGE, the video contest asked San Francisco Bay Area high school students to document a significant oil spill and highlight solutions for the cleanup and remediation of oil from the environment. The purpose of the contest was to generate widespread awareness of the environmental, social and economic problems related to large oil spills. The challenge engaged young people in environmental problem solving through producing videos that educate and empower the general public.

Seven teams participated in the project, representing four Bay Area organizations, including The Oakland Zoo, The Exploratorium, The Chabot Space and Science Center and the Youth Watershed Challenge of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory researched and produced original videos and submitted their final projects to the X PRIZE Foundation by August 10, 2011. A panel of judges representing project partners and sponsors evaluated the entries and made the winning selections.

The kick-off and workshop included a filmmaking overview with storyboarding, lighting and shooting practice, tips on conducting successful interviews with subject matter experts, a “science behind an oil spill” tutorial, and overview of guidelines and project timeline. Teams learned about the science behind mixing oil and water…
They polished their cinematography, directing, acting and producing skills with cameras provided by Cisco to all of the participating teams for this contest…
And learned the art of storyboarding and the value of planning your shots…

Each of the teams used Cisco Video cameras to produce their videos based on the following guidelines and criteria:

  • Identify problems and limitations with current clean-up & remediation technologies.
  • Highlight innovative solutions for clean-up and remediation.
  • Address the environmental, social and economic impacts of large oil spills, such as the Deepwater Horizon spill.
  • Make the connection between large oil spills and individual responsibility
  • Identify how an oil spill affects local community members.
  • Highlight groups or individuals contributing to the protection of the environment from oil spills.
  • Address ways to reduce the likelihood for oil spill catastrophes in the future.

On August 20th the winners of the contest were announced during an awards ceremony at the California Academy of Sciences. Chabot Space and Science Center Team B won for EXXON VALDEZ, which chronicled the 1989 oil spill, its cleanup efforts and the lasting impact on the environment in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The Youth Watershed Challenge Project of PRBO Conservation Science Team 2 was honored for Best Scientific Investigation for DEEPWATER HORIZON, and THE PROBLEM WITH OIL by the Oakland Zoo’s team was named Most Creative.

The winning video will be enhanced by the California Academy of Sciences Visualization Studio and screened in the Academy’s Science in Action exhibit.


Front: Chabot Space and Science Team B members Manda Au, Bharat Raman, Jacob Ngai, Brian Zhang.
Middle: Thomas Azwell, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley ; Annie Costner, Blue Planet Water Solutions; Andrew Shaw, Chabot Space and Science Center; Francisco Juarez, California Academy of Sciences Careers in Science; Eric Godoy, California Academy of Sciences ; Roberta Brett, California Academy of Sciences.
Back: Mitch Aiken, X PRIZE Foundation; Ryan Carney, G Rock
Not pictured: Team Members Sreya Molakalapalli, Cathleen Nguyen

Best Scientific Investigation: DEEPWATER HORIZON
Youth Watershed Challenge Project of PRBO Conservation Science Team 2
Patti Vance, Staff Advisor
Francisco Juarez, Peer Advisor, Careers in Science
Jeffrey Chen, Zhong Huang, Kristen Sinclair, Margaux Sleckman
Most Creative: THE PROBLEM WITH OIL
The Oakland Zoo
Melinda Sievert, Staff Advisor
Jasmine Pettway, Peer Advisor, Careers in Science
Kelsey Petersen, Kaitlyn Sheley, Michael Sheley, Lara Slatoff, Blake Spears
Chabot Space and Science Center Team A: OILED WATERS
Andrew Shaw, Staff Advisor
Jasmine Pettway, Peer Advisor, Careers in Science
Kevin Chow, Eliza Klyce, Grady Saccullo
XTech at the Exploratorium: COULD’VE, WOULD’VE, SHOULD’VE
Denny Tsang, Staff Advisor
Cyrah Tetrault, Peer Advisor, Careers in Science
Cara Cheng, Kathleen Nunez, Jiawei Zhu
Youth Watershed Challenge Project of PRBO Conservation Science Team 1: TURMOIL
Patti Vance, Staff Advisor
Leon Wang, Peer Advisor, Careers in Science
Siyu Huang, Nga Pham, Candice Sy
Youth Watershed Challenge Project of PRBO Conservation Science Team 3: OIL SPILL
Patti Vance, Staff Advisor
Angel Sun, Peer Advisor, Careers in Science
Kenneth Ko, Sarah Lum, Stephanie Yee

Program partners include the California Academy of Sciences, G-Rock, and UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources' Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. The program is generously sponsored by Wendy Schmidt and Kevin Costner’sBlue Planet Water Solutions.