GENIUS Olympiad invites 2014 entries, adds music

SUNY Oswego will host the fourth annual GENIUS Olympiad June 16 to 20, unveiling a new category—music composition and performance—in the growing global high school environmental competition. Entries are open until April 1.

SUNY Oswego’s GENIUS Olympiad (Global Environmental Issues—U.S.) aims to inspire high school students and the public to become aware of and contribute to the protection and improvement of the environment.

GENIUS participants explaining their inventionThe competition last year drew more than 1,200 applications, welcoming 530 participants from 53 countries and 38 states to campus for the finals. Besides music, students can enter projects with environmental-sustainability themes in science, art, writing or design.

Those numbers showed substantial growth from the inaugural year. In 2011, among 630 GENIUS Olympiad applicants, 223 finalists in science and art from 34 countries and 31 states competed in Oswego.

Fehmi Damkaci, GENIUS Olympiad founder and director, believes this year will draw more applicants than ever.

“We are already drawing applications from new countries this year, such as Chile, Uruguay, Holland, Colombia, etc., making GENIUS Olympiad get bigger, which excites me,” said Damkaci, associate professor and graduate coordinator of chemistry at SUNY Oswego. “Also, each time we add a new discipline, I am excited to see how many applications it will get.”

Mentors—teachers, parents or other educators or family—accompany the finalists, swelling the number of visitors to Oswego and to other destinations that week, including Niagara Falls and Destiny USA.

Creativity encouraged

In the most popular category, students in science enter a 15-page research paper in environmental quality, ecology and biodiversity, resource and energy or human ecology. Finalists also create a scholarly poster and often present a demonstration for the public and judges, this year June 16 and 17 in the Campus Center arena.

Damkaci and the competition’s advisory board encourage entries from around Central New York. For example, Manlius Pebble Hill School student Emerson Czerwinski Burkard won a silver medal last year for his presentation on “Application of Renewable Wind Energy to Improve Aircraft Efficiency.”

The art category invites environmentally themed photographs, short films, posters and satirical illustrations. Design encompasses architecture, urban planning, interior environment and innovative ideas for novel products or processes. Writing subcategories include short stories, essays and poetry.

The inaugural music category encourages appeals to emotion in order to affect listeners’ attitudes toward the environment.

“GENIUS Music heightens public concern for environmental problems and offers solutions by pulling at the auditory heartstrings through composition and performance,” organizers write on the competition’s website, “Compositions/performances may be in any style, but must exhibit a high degree of performance acumen, rehearsal, care, and thought.”

Every competitor receives a participation certificate, and winners receive medals and other prizes, such as tablets and MP3 players. Finalists and their mentors also have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Besides founding sponsors SUNY Oswego and the Terra Science and Education Foundation, SRC Inc. once again has signed on to support the GENIUS Olympiad.

GENIUS will hold events throughout the program for participants and the public. On June 17, the colorful GENIUS International Culture Fair from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Campus Center arena will display clothing, food, entertainment and more among attendees from around the world. A College Fair from 9 to 11 a.m. June 19 along the Campus Center concourse will provide information about applications, financial aid and other topics for students applying for higher education.

Competitors will arrive on campus June 15. The opening ceremony, free and open to the public, will begin at 6:15 p.m. June 16 in the arena, followed by a public viewing of the students’ exhibits. For more information, email or visit

PHOTO CAPTION: Scientific innovation—SUNY Oswego’s fourth annual GENIUS Olympiad, June 16 to 20, will accept environmentally themed entries through April 1 in science, art, writing, design and, new this year, in music from high school students around the world. Here, 2013 Costa Rican finalists Alexander Paniagua Campos, right, and Kerlin Yaradaxniz Murillo Camarena explain their coffee roaster based on solar energy to Kim and Russell Lupo from North Carolina in the Campus Center arena.

(Posted: Mar 13, 2014)

Tags: genius olympiad