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12 San Jose California Students Quest for 7 Million Dollar XPRIZE in Global Ocean Mapping Challenge

Valley Christian San Jose Students Quest for 7 Million Dollar XPRIZE in Global Ocean Mapping Challenge (Photo: Valley Christian Schools) Multimedia Gallery URL


Valley Christian Schools “Ocean Quest” team is one of 21 semi-finalists competing in the $7 Million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a global competition challenging teams to push the boundaries of ocean exploration technology for rapid, unmanned and high-resolution ocean mapping. While over 32 teams initially pitched designs to enter the competition, only 21 semi-finalist teams advanced, with Ocean Quest the only team selected comprised almost entirely of precollege-age, applied math science and engineering students.

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Using underwater robotics and high-resolution mapping and imaging systems, teams must overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles of ocean mapping that have plagued scientists for years. The competition is part of XPRIZE’s 10-year Ocean Initiative to address critical ocean challenges and help make the oceans healthy, valued, and understood. The students with Ocean Quest are hoping to make history with an oceanic technological breakthrough, all while studying for their history exams and English finals.

“Our team’s tag line is ‘from deep space to the deepest oceans,’ and it really exemplifies the world of possibilities STEM can open up for students,” says Danny Kim, Director of Innovation for the Quest Institute for Quality Education. “Our end goal is not only to provide a unique design to solve the XPRIZE challenge, but also to create a platform so that other schools can be inspired to learn STEM through ocean science.”

The students have been relying heavily on Microsoft products to help with the software design, utilizing their advanced operating systems such as Windows 10 IoT, Windows Server, as well the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to conduct all of the data gathering and analysis. Students from Ocean Quest previously teamed up with Microsoft to create a platform for sending experiments to the International Space Station as part of the Quest for Space program, a program that is now in 23 schools around the world.

“We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our ocean floor,” says Kim. “Talk about underdogs, our young students are competing against multi-national Ph.D. researchers with well-funded companies and universities backing them.”

As teams around the world gear up to deploy their deep-solutions in the competition later this fall, the students are hard at work to make their dreams of deep sea exploration a reality. “Through the Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, we have an unprecedented opportunity to create next generation tools, technologies and techniques that will illuminate deep-sea wonders and unlock a new era of ocean exploration,” said Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D., prize lead and senior director with XPRIZE’s Energy and Environment Group. “We look forward to seeing the teams’ innovative approaches come to life over the next 10 months.”

About the Quest Institute for Quality Education

The Quest Institute for Quality Education, located in San Jose, California, provides enriching programs for schools around the world in the fields of academics, arts and athletics via a personal Quest for ExcellenceTM. Visit http://thequestinstitute.com for more information.

About Valley Christian Schools

Valley Christian Schools (VCS) is a private, K-12 Christian school located in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Jose, California. VCS provides rigorous, college-preparatory programs while challenging students towards lives of character, service, and influence while pursuing their individual Quest for Excellence. For more information, visit http://www.vcs.net.


XPRIZE is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. XPRIZE utilizes a unique combination of gamification, crowd-sourcing, incentive prize theory, and exponential technologies as a formula to make 10x (vs. 10%) impact in the grand challenge domains facing our world. XPRIZE’s philosophy is that—under the right circumstances— igniting rapid experimentation from a variety of diverse lenses is the most efficient and effective method to driving exponential impact and solutions to grand challenges. Active competitions include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE and the $1M Anu and Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE. For more information, visit www.xprize.org.

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