“Houston, we have a problem.”
It is with those words that the Oswego County Academic Youth League began its second competition of the season titled: Lunacy.
The event featured challenges to test knowledge about the moon – scientific as well as the moon’s role in literature, history, and culture.
In addition, the competition tested engineers and astronauts in a simulated life and death situation mimicking the Apollo 13 incident from April 1970 where astronauts experienced an explosion on board which severely impaired their space craft and left their lives in danger to increasing levels of carbon dioxide.
Engineers on earth worked quickly to develop a filtration system that would remove those dangerous CO2 levels, using only items that the astronauts had on board.
Then they had to instruct the astronauts on board the disabled capsule to build the same filter in a short period of time before the oxygen levels fell and they lost consciousness.
While not a life or death test, the Lunacy competition did feature a time constraint to mimic the situation faced in 1970, with astronauts only having 20 minutes to construct their filter using the written instructions provided by the ground engineers.
The models were tested using a fog machine and compared side-by-side with the prototypes created by the engineers to see how well the instructions were communicated and followed.
Other aspects of lunar knowledge were also tested in the competition included creating a model of the Earth’s moon illustrating a cosmological role of the moon, development of a poem with a moon reference or theme, and seven quizzes involving the moon from science, literature, history or culture as well as identification of moon phases in a lightning round.
Each challenge was given a score and when the results were tabulated the team from Sandy Creek High School was declared the victor, with Pulaski taking second place and Oswego High School finishing third.
OCAY League was organized in the spring of 1997 with the idea that academics merit a standing comparable to athletics.
Students’ academic skills are challenged and showcased in a wide variety of competitive events that emphasize scholastic excellence, team building, leadership, and creativity.
A particular strength of the league is its emphasis on cooperative problem solving. OCAY League is coordinated through the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation’s gifted and talented program.