ENMU hosts science fair

Argen Duncan

Music tempo affecting heart rate … algae biofuel … robotic legs.

Sixth- through 12th-graders exhibited projects featuring those topics and many more at the 53rd annual Southeastern New Mexico Regional Science Fair Saturday at Eastern New Mexico University.

Fair Director Kenwyn Cradock, also an ENMU assistant professor of biology, said 129 students were participating, and the fair was going well this year.

Two Portales home-school students, seventh-grader Nathaniel Baker and eighth-grader Joseph Chappel, and 40 Clovis middle-school students were among the exhibitors. Chappel won second place in the junior division chemistry category.

Judge Mike Sanchez of the New Mexico Natural History Museum said there are always projects that are gems and make judging worth it.

“If anybody ever has any doubts about the future, come to one of these and see what the kids are doing,” he said.

Cradock said the competition is divided into junior and senior age divisions. The top two senior division winners advance to compete in the international science fair in Los Angeles, and third-highest contestant goes on to observe only.

Students who placed first or second in their scientific field category continue to the state science fair in Socorro.

“It’s incredibly valuable for students to get involved with the process of science and to get to interact with students from other schools,” he said.

Conor Kantrowitz, a junior from Carlsbad High School, has been competing at the science fair for four years, three working with algae biofuel. He said this year’s event was well-organized and everybody seemed nice.

Kantrowitz said competing in the science fair is a great experience because of being able to talk to and get input from people with doctorates and to exchange ideas with other students.

“It’s a really great experience that any high school kid should experience. Or middle school kid, for that matter,” he said.

Aryka Garcia, a sophomore in Vaughn, participated in the regional science fair for the first time this year. With her project, she said, she discovered the tempo of music, rather than the genre, increases heart rate.

Aryka Garcia said the fair was going well and was what she expected. Science fair participation is a requirement for her, but she said she liked doing the projects.

Another competitor, Carlsbad sophomore Louis Garcia, was aiming to participate in the international fair this year, after observing it last year. He met his goal, being chosen as one of the top two participants in the senior division.

For two years, Louis Garcia has been working to create a robotic leg that would walk for someone who lost a leg.

“And test by test, it will be more human-like,” he said.

Louis Garcia said he does the science fair projects because he loves engineering and the efforts will help him get to college and prepare to present ideas to corporations.