County’s high schools invited to local GENIUS environmental competition

SUNY Oswego has launched an Oswego County branch of the college’s global GENIUS Olympiad competition for local high school student projects aimed at highlighting or solving environmental issues.

The new science competition among students from area high schools will take place 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 17 in the Campus Center arena, concurrent with Quest, the college’s day to celebrate the scholarly and creative activities of students, faculty and staff.

“It’s very exciting, and the winning school will receive a $2,000 stipend to do a sustainability project at their school,” said Tammy Elowsky, assistant director of the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Community Relations, helping organize the fledgling competition for the Civic Engagement Coalition at the college.

The winning student or two-student team in the Oswego County competition will receive an automatic entry for the 2013 global GENIUS finals, June 16 to 21 at the college, Elowsky said.

Students and their projects from G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton and Paul V. Moore High School in Central Square are among early entrants for the local GENIUS competition.

Elowsky said that initially she spoke with Fehmi Damkaci, the foudner of GENIUS and associate provost for graduate studies at the college, about putting together a traditional science fair to encourage young minds toward further education.

“How do we keep students studying here, perhaps staying here?” wondered Elowsky. “By getting them interested in and thinking about college.”

Damkaci suggested she consider organizing a local GENIUS competition.

The GENIUS Olympiad, now in its third year, invites high school students from around the world to compete for finalist spots each June in a juried exhibition and weeklong series of educational events.

Nearly 300 finalists, accompanied by 139 mentors, participated in 2012 from 49 countries and 30 states.

Elowsky, who began working at the college a year ago, recalled being impressed last year when she toured the GENIUS exhibition and spoke with students.

“I was blown away by how intelligent these high school students are,” Elowsky said.  “It really started me thinking.”

The local competitors will set up their new exhibition in the midst of the annual Sustainability Fair, which also takes place on Quest day.

Among the high school entries are “The Effects of the Round Goby on Local Fish Populations,” “The Footprint of a Domestic Cat” and “How Economic Status Influences Environmental Views.”

“Everything at the Sustainability Fair will be going on around us,” Elowsky said. “The (energy-saving) cars will be right behind us. So the students will get a lot of exposure.”

Parking is free April 17 for visitors to Quest, whose hundreds of talks, panel discussions, demonstrations and concurrent events, such as the local GENIUS competition and the Sustainability Fair and Symposium, will take place largely in the Campus Center and nearby Lanigan and Snygg halls.

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