Since 2018, the State Park has been working to bring back the native plant community to a site in Crystal Cove. The Conservancy and UC Irvine (UCI) worked together to restore an area in Crystal Cove called “The Bowl” that has changed over time from native coastal sage scrub to an invaded grassland dominated by non-native species. Crystal Cove staff and volunteers worked to create an experiment to see what combination of plants would best restore “The Bowl.” 

For teachers:  If you are a teacher and would like to run this project with your science or math class, feel free to use this Lesson Guide and these Student Notebook Pages!

We would like to know who is taking part in the program! Please fill out this participation form if you have used any of the challenges.

Background on The Bowl Restoration Experiment

Ecological restoration can be a challenging process, and not all restoration efforts are successful. Here at The Bowl, we’re investigating if certain types of native plants might be more successful at restoring our plant community than others. In this experiment, we planted five different seed mixes and then collected data on the plant community and soil moisture in each treatment. Now, we want your help to virtually collect and analyze data so that we can determine which is the best restoration method for the Bowl! Thanks in advance for your help. We’re really looking forward to seeing what you find! 

How You Can Help!

UCI has been working on a restoration plan in “The Bowl” of Moro Canyon, and we need your help in determining what restoration plan our data best supports. To help us you will need to:

  1. Learn more about The Bowl Restoration Experiment by watching and reading through the background materials below.
  2. Make hypotheses on whether you think there will be differences between the different seed mixes. 
  3. Virtually collect plant diversity and soil moisture data. 
  4. Use SageModeler to analyze and graph the data.
  5. Share your findings back with us!
  6. Reflect on your experience.

Thank you in advance for your help!  We’re really excited to see what you find.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us by emailing

Step 1: Learn more about the Bowl

Watch the slideshow with Hunter and Amanda on VoiceThread

Additional resources 

Step 2: Develop a Hypothesis

Once you’ve looked through the background materials, think about our research questions about our seed mixes: 

  • Research Question 1: Does the amount of water in the soil vary between the different seed mixes? 
  • Research Question 2: Does the number of native plants that germinate vary between the different seed mixes? 
  • Research Question 3: Does the number of non-native plants that germinate vary between the different seed mixes?

What do you predict you’ll find when you analyze “The Bowl” data set? Make a hypothesis for each research question and share your initial ideas with us by completing this Google Form

Step 3: Virtually Collect Data 

Now that you have developed your hypotheses, take a virtual trip to The Bowl to see Hunter and Amanda demonstrate how we collect data. We want your help virtually, so you can use this slideshow to follow along and record data from one of our research plots.  When you’re done, you can submit your data to us through this Google Form

Step 4: Analyzing Data Using SageModeler

Which seed mix would be the best for land managers to use in Crystal Cove State Park?  Open up the data in SageModeler and compare the plant germination, soil moisture, and cost of each seed mix to help you make a decision on which seed mix to recommend. 

For a crash course on analyzing data with SageModeler, watch our video on YouTube.

Step 5: Sharing Your Findings

We want to know what you found! What trends did you notice in the data? Did one seed mix work better than another? Which seed mixes were the most and least expensive? Which seed mix would you recommend land managers use in future restoration projects? 

Please share your findings through Google Form! As part of your conclusions, it would be really helpful to get a copy of any data visualizations that you created so that we can share them with Crystal Cove State Park’s environmental scientists.

Would you like to communicate with other students who analyzed the data to talk more about it?  Contribute your thoughts, comments, or questions about the data to this Padlet and see what other people are thinking about the data, too.

Step 6: Reflect

It’s important for scientists to take some time to reflect on how their thinking has changed. Watch the video of Amanda to help you start reflecting on your experiences with the restoration experiment and answer the following reflection questions.

  1. What did you do during this environmental challenge?
  2. What did you learn? How did your thinking change?
  3. Do you think it is important to restore a native plant community in a habitat that has changed over time? Why or why not?
  4. Did you enjoy analyzing data and sharing your findings to help establish native plants?  What did or didn’t you like about the experience?
  5. Would you like to learn more about plant cover and restoration techniques? If so, what topics interest you?

Are you interested in getting involved in other community science activities? Explore how to contribute to projects at these websites.

Did you enjoy doing the work of a restoration ecologist?  Would you like to learn more about restoration ecology careers?  Explore career options by visiting the following websites.

Thank you for your help!  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us by emailing

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