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NMSU to host virtual New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge Dec. 12

High school students from 33 schools will be competing for $5,000 in prize money from 18 employers in the second New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge. Hosted and organized by New Mexico State University, the Los Alamos National Labs Foundation, New Mexico Department of Public Education and New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, this event will be entirely virtual Saturday, Dec. 12.


Ten-person student teams have submitted solutions to the NMSU formulated question, “How can you combine New Mexico’s natural resources with technology to address regional/global needs?” Employer partners have provided judges who will rate the solutions based on quality, creativity, presentation, and how they match up with skills that employers need for future hires in their own industries. Selected teams will receive $500 per student in cash.

Employer partners from around the state include: Air Force Research Labs, Boeing, Chevron, Deloitte, El Paso Electric, Facebook, Freeport-McMoran, Intel, Los Alamos National Labs, Lovelace Health, Molina, N3B Los Alamos, Pattern Energy, PNM, Presbyterian Health Services, Sandia National Labs, URENCO Eunice and Virgin Galactic.

“Governor Lujan Grisham cares deeply and passionately that New Mexican students can compete and thrive in a 21st century economy,” said Bill McCamley, NMDWS Cabinet Secretary. “The amazing contributions from statewide public and private sector partners shows the widespread agreement with the Governor and we are excited to complete the second year of this program even in these challenging times.”

“I want to thank each of our student participants as well as their mentors who helped them through this process,” said NMSU President John Floros. “Because of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and the Governor’s STEM Challenge, these students have studied important issues facing our state and developed a number of innovative potential solutions. When students are able to expand their understanding of STEM disciplines and emerging technologies, and we help them to think more quickly and innovatively, we all benefit.”

“It is our deep honor at the PED to recognize the resiliency, creativity and collaboration of students during this time of remote instruction. We are incredibly proud of New Mexican youth who are clearly demonstrating with the STEM Challenge they are the leaders that will take the state and nation into the next century,” said Gwen Perea Warniment, New Mexico Department of Public Education Deputy Secretary.

For specific information about the challenge visit, https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/bureaus/math-science/governors-stem-showcase/. Visit NMSU’s event website at https://nmsu.edu/community/STEM-challenge.html.

Below is a list of the schools and short descriptions of their proposals.

The ASK Academy (Rio Rancho): Our team has chosen to explore the hypothetical results of heat reclamation systems in the form of evaluating influential variables through four computer models: heat generation, heat to electricity generation, electricity savings and profit, and scalability plus environmental impact.

Academy for Technology and the Classics (Santa Fe): Our team has developed the Sink to Drink kitchen sink water filtration system. It’s combined usage of a 100 Micron Sediment Filter, a 0.5 Micron 5-step Filter, and a UV Light makes for a system capable of filtering/recycling the greywater from a kitchen sink by diverting half of the wastewater into the filtration system.

Belen High School: An underground agricultural farm would help solve the problem with land space and would also help increase the number of crops grown. The Kelvinators found a way to make this farm with working water, a light source, and ventilation.

Bernalillo High School: The main goal of the study is to create a solar cell from the pigment of four root crops grown in New Mexico. This study further aims to create a solar cell that will eventually help solve the vanishing fossil fuel supply and help solve the negative effects on the climate’s environment and health.

Capital High School (Santa Fe): While working on our project called “Solar Age,” we’ve created the following artifacts: Video presentation about global warming and renewable solar energy. A mobile app created in App Lab using JavaScript programming language designed for the households that use between 0-50 kWh electricity a day. Three computer programs written using Python language. A prototype of the PV system that consists of the small 5W PV panel controlled by the Arduino board that turns on the motors, which turn on gears and belts, which then move the rotator that tilts the panel at desired angles.

Centennial High School (Las Cruces): We created an app called Yes PeCan! that condenses the information that the farmers need to know - all in one convenient place.

Chapparal High School: Our product is intended to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus by eliminating most bacteria found on surfaces that are used by store guests (such as carts) upon the entry and exit from a business. The product itself is designed to sit on top of a door, or entrance way and spray a fine antibacterial mist in order to disinfect what may pass through, by the operation of a staff member.

East Mountain High School (Sandia Park): Our research group has been able to utilize New Mexico resources to create bioplastics capable of paving the way for a more sustainable future. We developed a recipe using potato starch, water, vinegar, glycerin, and yucca.

Grady High School: Our prototype is a filter system to separate the earth metals of scandium and neodymium from coal ash.

La Cueva High School (Albuquerque): The project uses Wolfram Language, to make a simulation to identify land from satellite images that have high wildfire risk.

Media Arts Collaborative Charter School (Albuquerque): What we propose is a device that can be attached to the back of your washing machine that will direct the grey water from your washing machine straight to your garden. This device consists of a three-way valve that lets you choose whether or not you want to divert your grey water for that load or not.

Mayfield High School (Las Cruces): Our team’s solution to the problem at hand is with the creation of an autonomous solar panel that follows the sun throughout the day to maximize solar consumption compared to a stationary solar panel.

Mandela International Magnet School (Santa Fe): The prototype design takes in contaminated wastewater transported from a mining plant or other toxic wastewater source and uses Helianthus annuus (commonly known as the sunflower) as the primary agent in the process of rhizofiltration to remove toxins from the wastewater. The detoxified water is then sent to a secondary greenhouse which contains a hydroponic system which uses that water to grow crops efficiently with low environmental impact.

Miyamura High School (Gallup): Together we all worked on making a water system for a tiny home. It can hold up to 60 gallons of water that can be use throughout the house. The gray water is used for a garden and the black water is disposed of.

Monte Del Sol Charter School (Santa Fe): In order to transition away from fossil fuels and into this type of energy, the Monte del Sol STEM Dragons created four prototype biodigesters for our school. A biodigester is a container that biologically digests organic material and gives off biogas to be used as an energy source.

NM Military Institute (Roswell): We decided to create a hand sanitizer with several natural resources from the State of New Mexico without the use of any harmful chemical substances. From our lengthy research process, we discovered that we could use pecan shells and prickly pear cactus extract to make a hand sanitizer that acts as a prophylactic solution against pathogenic organisms.

Oak Grove Classical Academy (Albuquerque): The solution we propose is to take advantage of the extreme heat produced by fire to adapt thermoelectric cooling technology to generate electricity by utilizing the Seebeck effect. To accomplish this, we constructed a thermoelectric generator that pulls heat from candles and generates 1.5 volts of electricity.

Pecos Connections Academy (Carlsbad): We made Enlighten, which is an intelligent and effective tool for firefighters to comprehensively understand the situation before arriving on the scene, as well as giving other critical information that relates to the structure and occupants.

Portales High School: We decided to create a pump that continuously moved water in and out of the [White Sands] aquifer and lake, while filtering out the minerals and monitoring the water levels of both.

Roswell High School: We decided to tackle this issue using our own New Mexican resources and designing our Roswell Alien Arm. The myoelectric prosthesis imitates the normal human process of sending and receiving neural messages.

San Jon High School: Alkan-27 is a machine that serves the purpose of collecting aluminum cans in return for an incentive amount determined by the object’s frequency.
Sandia High School (Albuquerque): We plan to use the clean and unlimited power of the sun to purify water through distillation.

Santa Teresa High School: Our plan is to enhance availability, particularly for electric vehicles by creating a highway that powers vehicles and convinces the public to make the switch, allowing environmental damage to diminish.

Silver City High School: Our prototype consists of a card and chip reading face covering vending machine with not only the standard style of mask and face shields but also variants. These variants would include face coverings designed with different points of attachment and anti-fogging technology.

SW Secondary Learning Center (Albuquerque): We wanted to create a prototype that could be used to produce Biogas. Our model we came up with was a simple water jug with some additions.

Taos Academy: Project Nature Breathe is a natural plant-based filter for HVAC systems, with the equivalent of MERV13 and higher particulate filtering and cohesion under pressure.

Taos High School: We intend to construct a fuel cell and use it to power a small RC car.

Taos Integrated School for the Arts : To create the GEM, electrostatic spray deposition spreads charged graphene coating onto a flexible mesh mask form, which once thermally annealed to fuse the coating, creates an incredibly strong, unbelievably light, reusable mask.

Tohatchi High School: The main purpose of the prototype is to store rainwater in corn cobs to make access to water easier.

V Sue Cleveland School (Rio Rancho): SolGen uses solar power to create clean water and electricity.

Valley High School (Albuquerque): Our solution is to put up kiosks around the city. An app would be created that would collect information such as a pre-created PIN and location of the person who is ordering a meal from the food pantry at these kiosks. A food delivery vehicle heads over to their location and confirms the order with the person who ordered the delivery.