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Students put science know-how to the test

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Lovington Sixth Grade Academy team members Alec Holquin, pouring sand, and Jeremy Mendoza see how much load the boomilever they constructed can hold. The team put 5.7 kilograms of sand in before the bucket dropped. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Middle and high school students from the region gathered Saturday on the New Mexico Military Institute campus to exercise their science smarts during the 2019 Southeast New Mexico Regional Science Olympiad.

Jay Leible, left, and Quiannalei Olivas, seventh graders at Sidney Gutierrez Middle School in Roswell, prepare their elastic-launched glider Saturday morning as they compete in the Southeast New Mexico Regional Science Olympiad at the New Mexico Military Institute. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

They gave demonstrations of their understanding of practical and theoretical scientific principles by competing in 23 different events — from making balsam wood gliders to building cars that use a mousetrap as part of their propulsion mechanisms, to taking tests that utilize various types of maps — or showing their understanding of reptiles and amphibians.

Twelve middle schools and 12 high schools competed in Saturday’s event, one of five regional competitions before the state finals Feb. 23 at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. The 35th annual national competition is slated for the end of May at Cornell University.

Each public, private, charter or home-school could send up to two teams, with top finishers, determined by accumulated scores, able to move on to the state event.

The 23 challenges‚ with different ones for middle school and high school teams — cover the categories of earth and space science, physical science and chemistry; life, personal and social science; inquiry and the nature of science; and technology and engineering.

Schools and students are able to compete for honors, prizes and scholarships.

NMMI has hosted the regional event since 1993, said Col. Cheryl Martinez, a math professor and the coordinator of the regional competition.