Taos Academy Charter students designed a drone to fly over wildfires and reduce the chances of fanning the flames. Taos High School students pitched the plans for a solar-powered computer lab.

Both were among 20 winning projects submitted by high schools around the state as part of the first-ever New Mexico Governor's STEM Challenge, a competition testing students' ability to use science, technology, engineering and math to solve real-world problems. More than 600 people were on hand Saturday (Dec. 7) at Los Lunas High School to see the projects and hear about the winners.

The winning teams took home $500 for each student.

The competition is a collaboration between the Department of Public Education, the Department of Workforce Solutions, Los Alamos National Laboratory and 18 other STEM employers in the state. A total of 46 student teams participated in the event. Their projects were judged by 19 judges from New Mexico STEM employers.

Each team was composed of up to 10 students who have made a computer simulation or prototype answering the question posed by Los Alamos National Laboratory: "How can you use science and technology to make the world safer?"

Other projects included a modified backpack equipped with a water filter and 15-liter, clean-water storage capacity for use in natural disasters designed by students from the Academy for Technology & the Classics in Santa Fe.

Alta Vista Early College High School in Anthony explored the use of hybrid concrete made of recycled materials to build houses for the homeless.

And Ratón High School designed an Automated Climate Temperature Sensor to monitor conditions inside a greenhouse for efficient food production.

- Submitted report

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