Northeastern Regional Science Fair Attracts 200 Middle and High School Students

March 9, 2020

Northeastern Regional Science Fair photograph

Highlands biology senior Elicia Trujillo, right, interviews Zeynep Bastas about her project named “Magical Foods” at the Northeastern Regional Science Fair at Wilson Complex March 7. Zeynep is a junior at the United World College – USA, an international college preparatory institution.
Photo: Rick Loffredo/University Relations

Las Vegas, N.M. – More than 200 middle and high school students had the opportunity to express their own scientific creations at New Mexico Highlands University’s Northeastern Regional Science Fair March 7.

Students from communities like Las Vegas, Taos, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Roy and Wagon Mound gathered at Highlands to present their science fair projects.

Kelly Trujillo, director of the Highlands Achieving in Research, Math and Science (ARMAS) Center, co-directed the science fair along with Kino Hurtado, the Career Services director at Highlands.

Trujillo said the science fair plays an important role in encouraging students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math, known collectively as STEM. Highlands has sponsored the Northeastern Regional Science Fair for more than 50 years.

“Kids decide early whether science and math is their ‘thing,’” Trujillo said. “Too often, students who have poor experiences learning these difficult subjects write it off before giving it a real chance. I think that when students stick with it, they learn how rewarding scientific discovery can be. Hopefully, students leave the science fair with a sense of real accomplishment, which drives them to go further.”

Trujillo said community outreach activities like the Northeastern Regional Science Fair are essential for letting communities know what Highlands has to offer in STEM education.

“Science fair participants and their teachers and families get to meet our Highlands students and professors. They get to see our campus, check out fun science activities at our ARMAS Center and see beautiful Las Vegas. Ultimately, the youth get an opportunity to visualize themselves as a future student at Highlands,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo said the science fair relies on more than 100 volunteers, including Highlands faculty, students and others who help judge the science fair entries.

“We have a variety of judges who come from various stages in their scientific careers. Our Highlands students encourage the younger kids to continue doing scientific research. Our students are fantastic role models. They are mentored by more senior judges such as our Highlands science faculty, other faculty, and career and retired scientists,” Trujillo said.

The head judge for the science fair was Juergen Eckert, a research professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas Tech University.