Future Scientists and Engineers Compete in State Science Olympiad

Feb. 27, 2023

New Mexico Tech provides venue, volunteers for championship event

Austin Martinez, Sean DeTamble
Austin Martinez, left, and Sean DeTamble, both juniors at Los Lunas High School, used what they learned in engineering class and an after-school class to build their prop-driven glider. The teammates competed in the flight event in the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium during the State Championship for the Science Olympiad Feb. 25, 2023.

SOCORRO, N.M. – Showing off what they’ve learned in the classroom and after-school programs, students from across the state had the opportunity to collect awards for their scientific knowledge and engineering skills at the Annual State Championship for the Science Olympiad hosted by New Mexico Tech. More than 1,000 people participated in, volunteered for, and cheered on their teams at the annual competition held Feb. 25, 2023, at the state’s premiere science and engineering university.

Taylor Charleston, Kaitlyn Begay
Taylor Charleston, left, and Kaitlyn Begay, of Tsé Bit A'í Middle School in Shiprock, display their prop-driven glider before competing in the Science Olympiad flight event Feb. 25 at the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium.

The daylong event took place in state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities across New Mexico Tech’s campus and included students from sixth through 12th grade on 58 teams competing in 23 different events, including written competitions showcasing students’ knowledge of science topics, and build events exhibiting participants’ mechanical engineering and technical skills creating aircraft and sensing devices.

Ethan Aubert, Decland Fear
Ethan Aubert, left, and Decland Fear, both sixth-graders at Heights Middle School in Farmington, make adjustments to their entry in the rollercoaster competition at the State Championship for the Science Olympiad Feb. 25, 2023, hosted by New Mexico Tech.

New Mexico Tech students, faculty, staff, and alumni as well as many parents, coaches, and science and engineering professionals volunteer their time to make the event a success for the students, according to Dr. Sharon Sessions, director of STEM Outreach and chair of the university’s Physics Department.

Markus Borunda, Drew Reeder
Markus Borunda, left, and Drew Reeder, both sixth-graders at Sixth Grade Academy in Lovington, pose by their catapult they built for the “Storm the Castle” event held Feb. 25, 2023 in the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium as part of the State Championship for the Science Olympiad.

“My deepest and sincerest appreciation goes out to the students who have spent countless hours studying, building, and working with their teams, teachers, and coaches to prepare for these events,” she said. “It takes persistence and patience, and what you get is so much more than a medal and a chance to compete at the state competition here at New Mexico Tech, you develop the skills that will help solve many of the challenges we face in the world.”

Keller Ford, Niki Planck
Keller Ford, a Cottonwood Valley Charter School eighth-grader, looks on as teammate Niki Planck prepares to trigger the trebuchet, which is a type of catapult that uses a long arm to throw a projectile. The “Storm the Castle” event was held Feb. 25, 2023, in the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium as part of the State Championship for the Science Olympiad.

Reggie Bourgeois, an environmental scientist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Albuquerque, served as event supervisor for the flight competition held in the New Mexico Tech gymnasium, checking in teams for their gliders’ weight and dimension specs. He has volunteered at the Science Olympiad since 2001 and is always impressed with the students’ talent and ingenuity.

Cottonwood Valley Charter School Students
Sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders from Cottonwood Valley Charter School in Socorro await their turn to cheer on their teammates in the Storm the Castle catapult-building competition at the state Science Olympiad. From left are Kathleen Johnson, Kailyn Woods, Alexandra Zagrai, and Maya Razavi at the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium Feb. 25, 2023.

“It’s win-win,” he said about the competition. “This really is the future. I’m switched on about the future.”