New students plunging into their SUNY Oswego education in the EOP Summer Program immersed themselves in "Fresh Water for All" -- the college's two-year Grand Challenges project -- as they researched water sources, consumption and conservation.

Several dozen teams of students took on topics such as over-consuming water, using tap water vs. using bottled water, accountability for aging water systems, conservation measures and more.

All 99 students in the Educational Opportunity Program's three-week residential program took part in a scholarly poster session July 26 in Hewitt ballroom. The EOP Summer program provides students a glimpse of the academic, social and support opportunities that will be available in the fall semester.

Their research projects gave the incoming students the opportunity to work in groups, learn to use Penfield Library and its resources, design posters summarizing their projects, and to present their work orally to the scores of visitors who made their way among the posters.

Oswego's Educational Opportunity Program fulfills New York state's commitment, according to SUNY, "to provide access, academic support and financial aid to students who show promise for succeeding in college but may not otherwise be offered admission."

Kate Spector, a mathematics specialist with the Office of Learning Services and the coordinator of the math and problem-solving components of the EOP Summer Program, came up with the idea for these students -- just out of high school -- to do scholarly research leading to a poster session.

"When I was designing the course, it struck me that the idea of getting students excited about math, about group projects and about presenting could work," Spector said. "I think the students have really enjoyed learning and enjoyed sharing their work."

Jennifer Vargas, a business administration major in the class of 2022, entering SUNY Oswego this fall, teamed with Malia Velez, who has not yet declared a major, and electrical and computer engineering major Micah Logan to produce "Why Waste Water When We Can Conserve It?" They discussed the issues in class, did surveys, combed websites and searched the library.

"As a business administration major, I'm going to do a lot of presentations," Vargas said. "We also need to work in groups, and we need to find websites that are accurate."

'Proud of work'

The students were struck by how much of the Earth's surface is covered by water, but how little of it, by comparison, is potable fresh water. Their findings on personal consumption of water in the United States resonated, too, with those of another team.

Nicolas Hyde, who has not yet declared a major, teamed with undeclared major Stephanie Crespo, graphic design major Naija Sheppard and biology major Alexia Wirths to produce a poster with the pun-driven title of "Water Your Habits?" They left an impression on visitors with their findings on how much water humans use brushing their teeth with the tap running and the many gallons consumed in lengthy showers.

Accounting major Nikita Walker and biology major Chelsea Maldonado made the case for bottled water vs. tap water. A three-man team of accounting major Tramar Wallace, Cordell Bennett of broadcasting and mass communication, and Jahee Davenport of public relations recommended a source of money to help modernize water systems in places like Flint, Michigan: the companies selling billions of dollars' worth of bottled water.

Joey Tse, director of the EOP Program at SUNY Oswego, made his way from poster to poster, questioning the researchers and expressing delight with how the projects and presentations had gone for these students, who will start classes with nearly 8,000 other SUNY Oswego undergraduate and graduate students on Aug. 27.

"These students are very proud of the work they have done, and they should be," he said.