About 1,000 talented high school students from across the state, the nation, and even the world are arriving in Central New York ready to demonstrate their knowledge about a wide array of environmental and energy issues.
They’re competing in the Genius Olympiad at SUNY Oswego this week. Mary Eileen Wood with the Terra Science and Education Foundation says it’s a chance to let the students know they can make already make a difference.
"Start seeing yourselves as the answers to the questions, as the solutions to the challenges, even before you get out of high school. Because among these kids may be the person who creates the most efficient battery ever created that let's us save wind and solar energy much more efficiently."
The students will be presenting their projects Wednesday in Oswego, but Wood says they urgently need volunteer judges who want the opportunity to change and touch students’ lives. She says they’re looking for people with bachelor’s of arts or science degrees in the STEM fields who also might be educators. Wood says judges could also have a career in a trade…
"We have some students who are coming with machines they've built. So someone who comes with a journeyman's certificate with electronics, machining, or tooling, can ask the kids 'tell me what you did', and pause and listen. 'Tell me what you learned,' and pause and listen. And then the magic question that sends these kids off to imagining what they'll do next...and the question is, 'what will you do next?'"
Wood says asking those questions doesn’t require a Ph.D, and can have a lasting impact on impressionable students. She recalls one home-schooled student near Binghamton who was trying to teach the community about value of bats as predators of mosquitoes.
"Look to them as a key part of your environment, and he changed attitudes across counties around where he lived."
She says that student is now attending the College of the Atlantic, one of the premier environmental education schools in the world. Judges for Wednesday’s competition will get a $25 Amazon gift card, free lunch, and a free bus ride from Syracuse to Oswego if they choose, or they can drive themselves. Those interested can register here to be a judge or to ride the bus; or call/text Mary Eileen Wood directly at (315) 559-9374.