Sky high atop Abelson Hall is a 4,000-square-foot green house. With temperatures ranging from 78 to 82 degrees and a tropical plant collection containing approximately 800 species, “It’s a great place to bring kids,” said Chuck Cody, plant growth facilities manager in the School of Biological Sciences.
 
Cody and other faculty and staff in departments including libraries, university publishing and neuroscience are volunteers with the Imagine Tomorrow competition.
 
(Cody is one of the many faculty and staff volunteers who will give tours to more than 500 visiting students. Photo by Jordy Byrd, WSU Today Intern)
 
As a volunteer, Cody and others will introduce 500+ students on May 10 to the outstanding departments and research facilities at WSU.
 
Competition.
 
The high school competition asks students to imagine a tomorrow where the demand for clean energy, the threat of global warming, and transitioning economies converge.
 
The competition challenges students to select a challenge and prepare a 10-minute presentation based on the following platforms:
 
Technology: Invent or redesign a machine or process that uses sustainable technologies for energy production, consumption and conservation.
 
Design: Design a living/working space (a building, suburb, town or city) that has significantly lower CO2 emissions than at present.
 
Society: How can Washington be a leader in promoting and encouraging the use of sustainable energy and conservation practices?
 
Behavior: Describe or demonstrate what you and your local community can do to move away from dependency on fossil fuels and toward a future with alternative energy production and conservation.
 
Cody plans to show the visiting students the Abelson greenhouse and discuss plant diversity and ecology.
 
“I want to teach students to view the plant world with open eyes,” Cody said. “I want to make them think and replace all of their preconceived notions about plants.”
 
To illustrate these preconceived ideas about greenery; Cody said as soon as the students walk in the door he’ll give them 15 seconds to draw a flower. Virtually everyone will draw something that looks like a sunflower, he said.
 
“My job is to show the greenhouse’s hundreds of flowers that look nothing like their drawings,” he added.
 
Many floors below the greenhouses is Corey Johnson, head of library instruction at Holland and Terrell Library, who plans to meet with the students at Owen Science Library.
 
There, a small team of librarians will provide the students with alternative research methods.
 
“We want the students to see what sorts of research methods are being done,” he said. “Hopefully this will supplement their project research or help with further exploration.”
 
Sustainability
 
Once the students are finished sorting through books, they will have the opportunity to sort through recyclables with Rick Finch, manager with waste management.
 
Finch said rather that just discussing recycling as a whole, the walking tour of processes and systems will to show off WSU’s state-of-the-art waste management facilities.
 
“We go to quite a lot of effort so save stuff that would normally go into landfills,” he said. “The whole thing is quite a large process that I’m very proud of.”
 
According to Grant Norton, Imagine Tomorrow chair and associate dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture, the competition’s timing could not be better.
 
“As you heard in President (Elson S.) Floyd’s state of the university address,” Norton said, “he envisions WSU becoming a leader in charting a course focused on a sustainable future.”
 
For more information about the competition and a complete schedule of events visit www.imagine.wsu.edu.