Leaving Miami, the groups got together for a pre-Final pow-wow. It started with our Macedonian team having their flight from Istanbul canceled due to some political turmoil and not being able to make it to Miami to board the Adonia! Then, in an incredible display of kindness, the remaining 10 teams voted to allow him to compete, even though he missed the actual, large-group competition. I was very impressed with the display of kindness! Students never cease to amaze me!
The Final began on Monday the 18th, at 9:00 AM and people on board the ship came out to ask questions while the competitors did their thing in front of the judges. After 10 teams four and a half hours of competition, we were done for the day and still had another blissful day left at sea.
At sea or in port, boy oh boy were the judges and passengers impressed! Regular people who had no idea about the Science involved in the projects stopped by and were stunned by what these high school students from around the world came up with! (I was too.) People who were late to the competition were upset they missed it. Little did they know there was more coming…
Our teams got to know each other, and we landed in Puerto Plata, home of Amber Cove. Fathom/Carnival’s 90 million dollar playground for those interested in not seeing the Dominican Republic the way we would come to see it…Even the weather tried to ruin the fun and impacts we were about to have and participate in. On the ground we did CAMS (Creative Arts, Music, Sports), paper recycling, water filtration, cement floors and other Impact Activities, where we interacted one-on-one with the children and families of the Dominican Republic. Not to sound like an advertisement but, you really should check out Fathom’s website for more information because it’s worth the time to see all that participants did (and that you can do too)!… It is the Dominican Republic after all 🙂
But it was our last team, the Young Researchers, all the way from Macedonia, 5,621 miles away, who still needed his turn in front of the judges, which he got on Thursday the 21st. And thanks to the kindness and goodness of the teams, he had that chance and was equally impressive, demonstrating his solar-powered portable water-heater in the library of the Adonia to our amazed judges: Ms. Liza McFarland, Ms. Emily Hepding and Dr. Raghuveer Modala.
All of the scores were in! All of the various impact activities were done, we were on board, sailing for Miami, Florida when the prizes were to be handed out and did we ever have a treat for the participants of the competition. It’s not often, on large cruise ships that you get to meet and shake the captain’s hand. (However, our Adonia isn’t your typically large, 4,000+ capacity cruise ship, it only holds 750.) How often can you hear the captain speak frankly about the STEM knowledge (from electronic to mechanical, oceanic to engineering) needed to pilot a ship capable of holding 1,000 total people? Not very often, but that is exactly what we had! Captaining a 592 foot, 30,277 ton ship cannot be easy but she was kind enough to take an hour from her schedule to give out the awards and speak to all who were gathered.
As the awards went out Saturday evening and while we all slept through the night, Adonia steamed serenely through the night at a steady 17 knots (19.5 mph/ 31.3 kph) and we woke up back where we started, the port of Miami. Our cruise to and from Amber Cove covered roughly 2,000 miles and four days at sea. Although there were only 20 students on board (from four different nations), the number of memories we created are uncountable and the lives touched were innumerable.
Two days later as I wrote this, I sat again thinking. Thinking about all I saw, experience, the students, parents and chaperones I met and the ideas I was impressed by and the ending to this story ends with a “Thank you”. Without all the dedication of the students and their support systems, the Clean Tech Competition couldn’t happen. Sure I did a lot of work, but it was all for you. So…Thank you…without you, it wouldn’t have been possible. You’ve all made a huge impact on my life and I hope your idea makes an even bigger one on the world!
Never stop looking around you (for a solution), you never know what you’ll see!