When organizers for the most recent Oswego County Academic Youth (OCAY) League Competition posed the question, “what can be done to fix America’s educational system?” they were met with a myriad of solutions, many of which may have surprised them.
You might not expect to hear students today challenge that our academic standards are not high enough or that we allow too much free time instead of requiring students in their junior and senior years to take challenging courses in math and science, and voice concerns over the quality of education versus what is being taught in other countries.
The third competition of the OCAY League season was quite political in nature. Entitled “2012” the competition began with a series of 10 quizzes on U.S. and World current events and geography.
The teams also created a political cartoon about the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, created a time capsule based on modern American life, and gave a persuasive speech on the education system in the United States.
The teams, from eight of the nine districts in Oswego County, consisted of 6-10 students, who until they arrived at the competition venue, had no idea what the competition would entail.
Beginning with the timed quizzes, teams of two students were scheduled to take the tests as scores were tabulated by the judges. Each team member was required to complete at least one quiz and no member could complete consecutive quizzes.
The political cartoons about the 2012 presidential campaigns portrayed not only a political astuteness but also reflected artistic talent as well.
The cartoons were judged on their visual presentation, whether the cartoon showed clear understanding of the political concept and issue, and how clearly the artist conveyed the point.
The time capsule project had students create a list of five items that accurately depicted modern American life.
Then they created posters illustrating those items and the container that made up the time capsule. Judging was on the artwork and the items chosen to illustrate modern American life.
The teams selected items such as electronics including iPads, iPods, iPhones, Kindle Fire. McDonalds was another frequently used element, from the golden arches, to used French fry containers, other items included 3-D glasses, electric cars, the 2012 Olympics, the economy, the Hunger Games, reality television and video games.
The 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 is coordinated through the Oswego County BOCES’ Gifted and Talented Program service to local school districts.