In The Field

AGU – Youngest poster presenter?

You won’t find his name in the program, but his teacher and colleagues think Andy Olander – a 13-year-old student from Albuquerque, New Mexico – may be the youngest poster presenter at an American Geophysical Union meeting. Olander and five “colleagues” at the James Monroe Middle School developed a project on comparing the length of the sun’s shadow in summer and winter at different locations globally. Over time, “the shadow team” grew as they tapped the knowledge of professional scientists at the US Geological Survey and the Raytheon Polar Service in Colorado. Then their science teacher, Turtle Haste, and Mary McGann of the USGS office in Menlo Park, California, struggled with how to credit the abstract for the AGU autumn meeting poster. Initially, they assumed he was too young to be an author. Then they checked around and found there appeared to be no lower age limit. But by then, the report was accepted for presentation without any of the student names as authors. The eighth-grader then got the call to describe the professionally done poster’s graphs on shadow length. Dressed smartly, he looked viewers in the eye and verbally projected well – something some of his more senior presenters down the row weren’t doing. The AGU public affairs office wasn’t sure if he indeed was the youngest. It even was a bit of a problem for them to determine who to ask if there Was a lower age limit. They are checking. We’ll see. And we may see Andy again. “It’s really fun,” he says.

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