The eighth annual GENIUS Olympiad, a global high school environmental competition, anticipates a record 1,200 high school students and mentors to arrive at SUNY Oswego from up to 70 countries and 34 states for the June finals in science, visual and performing arts, writing, business and robotics.

New to the GENIUS -- Global Environmental Issues/U.S. -- competition are applicants from such countries as Ethiopia, Gabon, Jordan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Students from around the world submitted 1,657 project applications, a 17 percent increase for the ever-growing competition.

"We also received the highest number of New York state applications this year, around 13 percent (of the total)," said Dr. Fehmi Damkaci, founder and director of GENIUS Olympiad and a chemistry faculty member at Oswego.

Damkaci added, "I am excited to see the competition continues to grow in its eight years and attract new countries. Overall, we have hosted students from 98 countries over eight years in Oswego -- I think that is an accomplishment for Oswego."

A team of three judges scored projects, and accepted 44 percent of them for the finals; some finalists come directly from GENIUS-affiliated fairs in many other states and countries.

Finalists and mentors are scheduled to arrive on campus Monday, June 11, to prepare for several days of competition, intercultural events and college exploration sponsored by Terra Science and Education Foundation and SUNY Oswego.

Public events, all free, include the following:

* Tuesday, June 12: Opening ceremony and public viewing of projects from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in Marano Campus Center arena. The competitors, often in the traditional dress of their countries or cultures, are on hand to explain their work.

* Wednesday, June 13: International Cultural Fair, featuring students in national and regional attire, as well as a multicultural crafts and entertainment from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the arena.

* Friday, June 15: The annual GENIUS College Fair, open to all interested students and family members, from 9 to 11 a.m. along Marano Campus Center concourse. The competition's finale, the award ceremony, will take place from 1:15 to 3 p.m. in the arena.

The competition promotes a global understanding of environmental issues and the achievement of sustainability through basic science, arts, creative writing, engineering, design and business development.

The science competition encompasses 406 finalist projects in five categories: environmental quality, ecology and biodiversity, resource and energy, human ecology and innovation. Visual and performing arts' 183 projects feature photography, short film, poster design, music or satirical illustration. Competitors in writing's 76 finalist projects can convey their message in short story, essay or poetry. This year's business competition features 18 projects in entrepreneurship and social responsibility.

Finally, robotics -- new last year -- will present a master game titled "Genius Zookeeper" to test the engineering and programming skills of competitors on 46 teams of up to three students each. They will use their own customized robots in LEGO, TETRIX or VEX categories to transport "lost animals"  -- omnivores, carnivores and herbivores -- which must be placed in their respective habitats to earn water and food "resources" that also must be sorted by type.

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