e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Environmental Summit Caps Year of ESF in the High School

Students from 12 schools share year-long research projects

"Bringing all these people together makes me feel like I'm part of a bigger scientific community," said Jacob O'Connell of the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central.

O'Connell was one of 160 students from 12 schools attending ESF's Environmental Summit June 2. The summit is the culminating event of the ESF in the High School program, said Dr. Richard E. Beal, associate director for educational outreach at ESF.

The students are all enrolled in the college's ESF in the High School global environment course, which allows them to experience college-level coursework while still in high school. During the Environmental Summit, students present their semester-long research projects to their peers, high school and college science faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students.

Students aren't required to participate in the summit, Beal said, but many of the schools in the ESF in the High School program choose to come. "I had one teacher tell me it's difficult to get the kids to do the necessary research but they get so much out of presenting their findings that it becomes the highlight of the ESF in the High School experience."

Students from the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central had an added bonus to their ESF in the High School class. Because the school is located minutes away from the ESF campus, the students came to campus to take global environment on campus with Beal, explained teacher Joe Boronczyk.

"Taking Dr. Beal's class, coming to campus and interacting with the college students made the experience so much better," said O'Connell, who will be entering ESF in the fall as an environmental science major.

O'Connell's group was presenting on "Solar Panel Tracking and Efficiency," he explained. The group used store-bought solar panels and worked to increase the panels' efficiency. This wasn't O'Connell's first ESF presentation experience. He participated in ESF's middle school science fair years prior.

ESF in the High School also offers other benefits to teachers and students. "There's this huge collection of teacher connections, and guest lecturers to tap into. Because we're partnered with ESF we have the huge resource to help the kids do their research," said Boronczyk.

Schools participating in the summit include Onondaga Cortland Madison County BOCES; Fowler High School, Syracuse; Chittenango High School; Paul V. Moore High School, Central Square; Henniger High School, Syracuse; Solvay High School; Liverpool High School; Westhill High School; LaFayette Jr./Sr. High School; Weedsport High School; Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central; and East Syracuse-Minoa High School.