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Re-inventing science education: how one teen is motivating others to take up science and environmental activism

ReefQuest Creator Dylan Vecchione, 13, chosen as 2012 Three Dot Dash® Global Teen Leader by We Are Family Foundation® . He will receive year long professional mentoring designed to help expand his program for a better approach to environmental science education and activism in kids

Los Angeles, New York -- January 18th, 2012 – At a time when schools and educators are struggling with declining science achievement and educational reform, an innovative teen has launched a remarkable new program designed to mentor the next generation of problem solvers through science.  “I have always believed that kids  learn best by ‘doing’ and by being involved in actual problem solving” said ReefQuest (www.reefquest.org) founder  Dylan Vecchione, 13.

Dylan was named a Three Dot Dash® Global Teen Leader by the We Are Family Foundation®, chosen as one of only 30 for this honor among thousands nominated worldwide. Three Dot Dash is a global initiative of the We Are Family Foundation designed to recognize and support the efforts of Global Teen Leaders around the world who are actively working on projects that promote a more peaceful society by addressing issues related to basic human needs: food, water, health, shelter, safety, education and the environment.

“ReefQuest is a portal into real-life scientific research where kids can actively participate through citizen science and make a difference.” Dylan added,  “being an active part of research when there is no known outcome is a very exciting and creative process, especially when kids learn from each other,” he continued.

As an avid sailor and scuba diver in California and Hawaii, Dylan saw entire coral reefs suffer from global warming and water pollution. Coral reefs are key for the health of the ocean and are often called the rainforests of the oceans. Dylan learned that the issues threatening coral reefs are global and that scientists don't have the manpower to monitor a great deal of the ocean. In response to these troubling findings, Dylan founded ReefQuest which empowers kids to make a difference in marine environmental stewardship through citizen science. ReefQuest is designed to inspire kids to mentor each other while developing an appreciation for marine ecosystems and introducing them to the world of science and its methods of problem solving. Schools and communities throughout the world, including California and Hawaii, and many island nations throughout the Pacific Rim are beginning to adopt Dylan's programs. Currently more than 6,000 kids in 28 countries are participating in ReefQuest activities in and out of the classroom.

With ReefQuest, Dylan is pioneering new ways of using the internet to engage kids and schools everywhere, regardless if they are near coral reefs. He developed the ReefQuest Virtual Reef, an underwater 3D panoramic reproduction of actual coral reefs. ReefQuest is working with schools to add virtual reefs and  document each reef’s evolution over time. “Our virtual reefs allow everyone an opportunity to participate in citizen science surveys even if they can not travel to a real coral reef, “ added Dylan.

Dylan attends the 7th grade at Wildwood School in Los Angeles. For his work on ReefQuest Dylan received a commendation from President Obama in 2011, as well as a letter of appreciation from the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.


For more information visit www.reefquest.org or email media@reefquest.org -- (310) 913-4535



About ReefQuest and the Virtual Reef Curriculum

ReefQuest was founded by 13-year old Dylan Vecchione born from his vision that kids could become marine environmental stewards if they are given the proper tools to do so. A key initiative of ReefQuest is the Virtual Reef, the world's first attempt to capture in high resolution digital underwater 3D panoramic sections of actual coral reefs. This will document the state of coral reefs so that they can be studied over time as well as enable various scientific surveys to be conducted by citizen scientists. ReefQuest empowers schools to extend the virtual reef to marine environments near them. ReefQuest’s first Virtual Reefs are in the West Maui locations of Kahekili and Honolua. Additional virtual reefs are in progress in the Santa Monica Bay in California and 28 other locations around the world. ReefQuest is partially funded by a grant from the Coral Reef Alliance, (www.coral.org).  For more information www.ReefQuest.org


About Dylan @ Three Dot Dash



The 2012 Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leaders



About Three Dot Dash

Three Dot Dash® is a global initiative of the We Are Family Foundation® designed to recognize and support the efforts of Global Teen Leaders around the world who are actively working on projects that promote a more peaceful society by addressing issues related to basic human needs: food, water, health, shelter, safety, education and the environment.

Inspired by the late 13-year-old poet and peacemaker Mattie J.T. Stepanek, Three Dot Dash is an innovative year-round leadership and mentoring program that teaches teen leaders how to "tell their stories" effectively using various forms of media, current technology and distribution methods in order to accelerate their leadership potential, advance their projects, mobilize peers and amplify their work to broader audiences around the world to take action.

Three Dot Dash creates a sustainable worldwide network of individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations to further the efforts of young leaders by harnessing the power of media, mentoring, and social networking to foster public participation around the globe.

The Three Dot Dash® Global Teen Leaders (GTLs) will collaborate each year on the creation of a multi-platform Public Service Campaign during the Just Peace Summit. This product will then be distributed in multiple languages globally through TV, online, print and radio in order to promote their work and encourage millions of people to replicate their positive messages and become involved. For more information see www.threedotdash.org


About We Are Family Foundation

The We Are Family Foundation® (WAFF) was born in response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and named after the world renowned hit song "We Are Family," written in 1979 for the successful pop group Sister Sledge by legendary songwriter/producer Nile Rodgers and his late music partner, Bernard Edwards.

On the weekend of September 22, 2001, eleven days after the tragedy, Nile and Tommy Boy Music president Tom Silverman gathered 200 celebrities together to re-record "We Are Family" as a way to commence the healing process. This historic event was followed by the release of a music video directed by Spike Lee, a documentary film of the recording sessions directed by Danny Schechter entitled The Making and Meaning of We Are Family, and a children's "We Are Family" music video featuring more than 100 beloved children's television characters. These recordings proved the song's power to provide hope and solace through its uplifting beat and message of global unity.

The We Are Family Foundation (WAFF), a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was formed in 2002 with the mission to celebrate the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate the next generation about respect, understanding and cultural diversity - while striving to solve some of our biggest global problems at the same time. For more information see www.wearefamilyfoundation.org

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