Next Generation of Scientists Compete for Science Fair Honors

By Thomas Guengerich

SOCORRO, N.M., April 1, 2009 – More than 300 middle school and high school scholars from every corner of New Mexico will exhibit their research projects Saturday, April 4, at the 57th Annual New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair on the New Mexico Tech campus.

Exhibits will be open to the public for viewing from 4 to 7 p.m. in the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium. Judging takes place earlier that day.

Students qualify for the state competition by placing in one of six regional events. The top-ranked students from state science fair or one of the regional events win the right to compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair, which will be in Reno, Nev., on May 10-15.

The New Mexico Science Fair awards honors in 15 categories, ranging from physics and astronomy to behavioral and social sciences. Four grand prizes are given: two in life sciences and two in physical sciences. The grand prize winners earn a trip to the International event.

In addition, the state Science Fair Office at New Mexico Tech coordinates an array of special awards and scholarships from private industry, universities, military branches and divisions, scientific associations and national laboratories. Students are competing for more than $100,000 in these special awards and scholarships.

Competitors range from sixth to twelfth grade. Some students have worked on the same project for several years, making more detailed studies each year.

“These students are very excited to be here,” Ortiz said. “For most of them, it’s the last step of competition, like the state finals in an athletic competition. This is a special experience to compete with all other students from New Mexico. They get to see what other students are researching.”

“The 300 entries all represent the cream of the crop,” Ortiz said. “They’ve already been through two rounds of competition – at their school and at regionals. The projects we send to the International Science and Engineering Fair are serious scientific work.”

Awards will be posted on the Science Fair’s website after 9 p.m. Saturday, April 4.

The evening before the event, the Tech marketing department will host a movie night and pizza party for the visiting students.

New Mexico Tech has been hosting the New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair since the science fair's inception in 1953.

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