Students show stuff at science fair

Last year Zane Morris thought about what to do for his science project then realized he could easily use nearby sources on his father's farm.

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed

Mesa Elementary sixth-grader Zane Morris, left, explains his project on solar energy to Cannon Airman Ryan Nissim. Morris explored using photovoltaic panels to power irrigation systems for home gardens and yards.

Morris chose to explore the use of a photovoltaic solar panel to power an irrigation system for home gardens and yards.

"I thought maybe I could do a model sprinkler since my dad is a farmer," said Morris, a sixth-grader at Mesa Elementary in Clovis.

"He did all the drilling, soldering and routing the wires and I did the rest."

Morris was one of 160 students competing in the Southeastern New Mexico Regional Science and Engineering Fair held at Eastern New Mexico University. His project took first place in the environmental science category of Mesa's science fair in January, earning him a spot in the regional fair.

The fair, in its 55th year, is held to encourage students from different academic fields to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math so they can pursue a college education and work toward a career in one of these fields. Some 67 schools across the region participated.

Each participant was interviewed in front of their exhibit by a panel of judges made up of military personnel, educators, graduate and undergraduate students and staff from local businesses. Winners advance to the state fair in Socorro.

Morris hopes his project will one day teach citizens to be more conservative in their energy consumption.

"A lot of people are trying to get these panels on their houses to save on their power bill," Morris said.

Yolanda Stephens, a sophomore at Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, did a project on the possibility of creating a prosthetic heart.

"There are two types of prosthetic hearts in the medical field; one requires a person to carry around a machine and the other is connected to your rib cage," said Stephens, who wants to become an engineer who helps create mechanical organs used in transplants.

"Instead of using plastic I'm using another type of material so that way the blood can expand and compress while doing other activities."

Stephens hopes to continue her research and work toward discovering new ways prosthetics can help individuals on a waiting list for an organ. She said her project took a year to complete.

Ken Cradock, associate professor of biology at ENMU and director of the science fair, said he was impressed by the imagination and creativity demonstrated through student projects and the diversity of projects at the fair. Cradock pointed out that science transcends geographical and cultural boundaries.

"It's an opportunity for students to engage in something that isn't just regional. Science is something that anyone can engage in. The science fair is an opportunity for students to start realizing science really has no boundaries."

Clovis High School science teacher Gabriel Apodaca visited the science fair with his wife Larissa. Apodaca said he liked how each participant demonstrated their knowledge of the scientific method.

"It's neat to see the kids start to understand that there is a process to go through to reach modern-day technology," said Apodaca, whose stepson Ethan did a project on the question of whether different liquids have the same effect on hydraulics.

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