New Mexico high schoolers present projects at annual STEM challenge
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – More than 400 high schoolers gathered at the UNM Student Union Building Saturday to present their projects at the annual New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge.
“They will be presenting a five-minute elevator pitch of their project, which answers the question we asked them at the beginning of the year. Which is about mental health post-pandemic and how technology can impact and improve people’s mental health,” said Ryan Labbe on the Governor’s STEM Challenge Steering Committee.
Teams like Tucumcari are no stranger to the competition. Last year they won a $7,000 grant and took their project to a national competition at MIT.
This year, their sights are set on helping the Indigenous population stay connected by improving online technology.
“The unit that we did add on to is called datacasting. Datacasting is a one-way communication, so an instructor could send out information, but there is not a way for students to send it back. Our add-on was basically making it two-way communication,” said Sariah Mardo a Tucumcari High School student.
The pandemic had students at Deming High School thinking about young children who missed out on play dates and recess.
“Our project is a community interactive playground. It includes various interactive fully functional games that if the sponsorships happen will fully be invented into a life-size version of the park,” said Addison Schulke a Deming High School student.
V. Sue Cleveland designed an automatic food harvester that is focused on food deserts where people have less access to healthy food.
“We definitely discussed it a lot. We had a couple of ideas, but we decided on this idea because it involved a lot of different aspects that we were interested in. Some of us wanted to do more with the planting, and we also have a data model for implementation, and we also have 3D printing and the design of the robot itself,” said Graciela Rodriguez, a V. Sue Cleveland High School student.
Zuni High School used virtual reality to help students with anxiety in social situations.
“We also created a calm room if their anxiety becomes too anxious or too overwhelming. They can go in that calm room and calm down or stay as much as they would like,” said Jordan Owaleon, a student at Zuni High School.
Sandia High School created a plant companion paired with an app that focuses on mental health.
While each project was different, there was one central theme:
“They see a challenge, and then they use technology to go after it, to find a solution. To help peers, they are thinking about peers, they are thinking about friends, they are thinking about family,” said Labbe.