GENIUS Unites Nations, Solutions
Joseph Meyer of Oregon has created a new energy source and solution to a pair of pollution problems. Mashiad Mostafa and The Ngone Oo of Myanmar have discovered non-chemical ways to enhance a traditional homeopathic mosquito repellant ... and they're not even out of high school yet.
Meyer's chicken waste recycler and the Myanmar team's alternative uses for Thanaka wood were just two of 196 middle and high school science and art projects originating in 34 countries and 31 states at the inaugural GENIUS Olympiad June 26 to 30, held on campus.
"We need your brains, we need your energy and we need your curiosity," said Annie Griffiths, National Geographic photographer and keynote speaker at the opening June 27. "You guys are going to make the world a better place."
A capacity crowd of about 500 students, parents, mentors and Oswego leaders watched Griffiths walk through decades of award-winning photos taken all over the planet. One of the first women photographers to work for National Geographic, she has had assignments in more than 100 countries and all 50 states.
Griffiths preached the power of passion in whatever endeavor GENIUS attendees take. In America, children of that academic caliber are called "gifted and talented," she explained, adding, "There should be a third word ... lucky."
Students are lucky to have the guidance of parents and mentors to help them achieve, Griffiths said. Each of the 200-plus competitors won regional, state and country-wide competitions to attend GENIUS, which interim Oswego Provost Lorrie Clemo described as an "educational and cultural exchange program."
Many international guests dressed in traditional clothing for the opening exhibition and reception in Hewitt Union. Conversations in several different languages floated from the ballroom and even from the open windows of Hart Hall, where competitors stayed for the week.
"It is an incredibly proud moment for our college," Clemo said. "In 150 years, we have never had such a diverse group of people in one place at one time."
And all working for one cause: "Global Environmental Issues and US," or GENIUS.
Science is one part of the equation; the next step is communicating with the public, Olympiad creator and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Fehmi Damkaci said. Art, like the photos, posters and short films also submitted in the competition, is one outlet for raising public awareness for scientific solutions.
"We would like to add creative writing next year and policy development next year or the following year," said Damkaci, whose Terra Science and Education Foundation provided most of the funding for GENIUS.
— Shane M. Liebler
Alungoo Battokhtokh, left, and Anu Yavuukhulan, both of Mongolia, prepare their project about industrialization and deforestation during the GENIUS Olympiad opening exhibition June 27 in Hewitt Union.
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