Institute hosts high school students for STEM Showdown at Storrie Lake

More than 150 students from five Northern New Mexico high schools learned about archery, water quality and forest fires from natural resource professionals last week during a STEM Showdown at Storrie Lake. 

Instructors used hands-on projects to engage students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts. The workshops were coordinated by Shantini Ramakrishnan, NMFWRI’s conservation and restoration education program manager. Partners included the National Wildlife Refuge Complex, NMHU Forestry Department, FORT-CREST, State Forestry, Azure Consulting and other Institute staff. 

Scoring archery helped students learn math and shooting arrows at targets was a fun way to learn focus. Tree rings on trunk samples taught students about historic forest fires and drought. Pouring water through soil samples covered with straw versus bare, showed how ground cover helps slow down and soak up precipitation instead of letting it run off. Measuring the cloudiness and temperature of water samples helped students understand the impacts post-fire runoff can have on water quality. Building mini-forests out of tiny umbrellas, and burning them, was an engaging way for students to learn how tree density impacts wildfire behavior. 

Students also met with natural resource professionals from State Forestry, New Mexico Acequia Association, USDA, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and other agencies to discuss careers. 

Students from Mora, West Las Vegas, Robertson, Española Walley and Mesa Vista high schools participated in the STEM Showdown, Sept. 12-15.  Students from area middle schools will participate in the STEM Showdown next week. 

NMFWRI is housed at New Mexico Highlands University. Find out more about our programs at