Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

New Mexico Governor's STEM Challenge

Recognizing achievement and developing potential in NM's diverse student population by exploring how STEM careers can address local, state, and global challenges


  • Statewide STEM Showcase Coordinator
  • Anjeli Doty
  • Community Partnerships Office
  • (505) 665-3922
  • Email
"Applying science, engineering, and technology to making the world safer is something we do every day, so this is a challenge that really resonates with us" - Laboratory Director Thom Mason
Theme for 2019-20 NM Governor's STEM Challenge
Los Alamos National Laboratory works to find solutions to challenging national problems in the following topic areas (click for larger image).

"How would you use technology to make the world a safer place?"

Scientific research and technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory is dedicated to protecting the security of our country. In the 2019-20 New Mexico Governor's STEM Challenge, the Laboratory invites local students to create technological solutions that meet the goal of Keeping the World Safer Using Technology. 

I want to...


See an overview of the Challenge
  • The NM Department of Workforce Solutions, the NM Public Education Department, and Los Alamos National Laboratory invite students in NM high school STEM classes statewide to imagine, design, and develop a project model to address the Laboratory's Challenge question
  • Schools accepting the Challenge will utilize the Laboratory's question as a co-curricular learning tool and case study in their STEM class curricula; though all STEM classrooms may participate, schools will choose a team of up to 10 students and teacher mentors to submit a proposed solution and present at the Statewide STEM Showcase on Dec 7 in Los Lunas
  • Participating NM industry employers judge teams based on quality and degree to which answers reflect skills required for careers with NM STEM businesses, and award winning teams $5,000 ($500/student)
  • Participating students team members receive varsity award letters in STEM recognized by the New Mexico Activities Association
Discover the big-picture mission and goals

At the heart of the STEM Challenge is a mission to:

  1. Recognize achievement and develop potential in the diverse students of New Mexico
  2. Encourage participation from underrepresented populations in STEM including minorities and girls
  3. Help teachers incorporate and utilize the Next Generation Science Standards in classrooms
Understand who can participate
  • All students grades 9-12 from NM high schools including public, charter, and private; home educators may participate by joining a public school team
  • Though all students in STEM high school classrooms may participate, schools will select one team of up to 10 students and 2 teacher mentors to represent the school and submit a proposed solution in the form of a written plan (10 pg. max) and 10-minute presentation of proposed solution
Get info on submission requirements

To participate in the STEM Challenge, each team will develop 1) a prototype/rough model of their solution, and 2) a proposal packet that outlines their prototype and presents a compelling plan for its usage.

1) the prototype:

  • Could be a computational model, computer simulation, or physical prototype
  • Smaller = usually better (needs to be transportable to the Statewide Showcase)
  • Can be made from reused and repurposed items
  • Can be made in a fab-lab or makerspace, but not a requirement
  • Does not need to be functional but ideally will be
  • If not functional, students need to explain how it could work

2) the proposal packet:

  • Due by November 22, 11:59pm
  • Submit online to Statewide Showcase coordinator Anjeli Doty (adoty@lanl.gov)
  • Needs to include:
    1. A one-page executive summary
    2. A written plan outlining the prototype design, development process, and usage plan; this document should identify the problem, convey the collaborative problem-solving process, demonstrate strengths and weaknesses, modifications, test results, and effectiveness
    3. A slide deck/pitch stack with photos, diagrams, etc.
Understand how the judging process works

Once the proposal packet is submitted, judges from partnered employer sponsors will review the projects and assign 50% of the score.

The judging system/rubric for the will be made available so that participants understand how teams will be evaluated and what it takes to be competitive.

The second 50% of the score will be evaluated through in-person demonstrations and team interviews at the Statewide Showcase on December 7 at Los Lunas High School, NM.

Find teacher resources

We want to help you! Here are some resources:

  • Digital Archive from the Sep. 14-15 Professional Learning Workshop in Albuquerque
  • Link to the NM STEM Ready! Science Standards
  • Link to the NM STEM Mentor Network to request an undergraduate mentor from institutions across the state (coordinated through New Mexico State University)
  • A $500 stipend for teacher mentors and reimbursement for supplies/materials (up to $500) are provided through the NM Public Education Department; once students submit their proposal packets on Nov. 22, teachers may submit reimbursement forms to receive such funds. 
  • Weekly virtual support through the PED and LANL
Connect on social media

Visit our Facebook page for the latest news and updates on the STEM Challenge!

Use the hashtag #NMGovSTEMChallenge to ask questions, share photos of your team, or explore previous news!

Learn about the sponsoring companies

The STEM Challenge is supported by numerous generous companies who each committed $5000 to sponsor a winning team. These companies include:

Explore the rewards and benefits
  • Winning teams receive $5,000 ($500/student) education award sponsored by NM STEM employers, and present at Statewide STEM Showcase before all companies, alliance participants, and other school teams
  • All participating team students eligible to receive varsity letter recognized by the New Mexico Activities Association for college admissions
  • Students will use and learn: teamwork, problem-solving, innovation, breakthrough technologies, STEM development, and presentation skills

Q: Can my school have more than one team?

A: Each New Mexico high school is eligible to register one (1) team for the STEM Challenge.

Q: How many students can participate on a team?

 A: All STEM students may participate, but teachers will choose 10 students from their classes that show interest and ability over the semester to comprise the official team, submit the final project proposal, and present at the Statewide STEM Showcase for a chance receive award funds.

Q: Does the STEM Challenge follow NMAA eligibility rules?

A: As an official activity, students must meet NMAA standards for participation.

Q: Do schools need to provide budget statements?

A: There will be no budget statement requirement for the 2019 year. The STEM Challenge rules dictate a monetary cap of <$500 spent on prototypes, and the judging panel is aware of all spending guidelines and rules.

Q: What is the maximum length of the project proposal's written portion?

A: The written piece should be 10 pages maximum, although citations and acknowledgements may be included on an additional page(s).

Q: How does the mentorship part work?

A: Teams register through the New Mexico STEM Mentor website under the "Request a STEM Mentor" option. If you know someone who would like to volunteer to be a mentor, the site also features a "Become a STEM Mentor" option.

Q: Is the teacher training workshop mandatory?

A: Attending the teacher workshop is not required although we highly encourage participation, even if only one of two teacher mentors on a team can attend. Travel will be reimbursed for those commuting 60+ miles. Schedule conflicts understandably arise, and we will do everything to accommodate.

Q: When and where is the teacher training workshop?

A: It is currently scheduled for September 14-15 at the Sheraton Uptown Hotel in Albuquerque.

Q: Do the students on our team need to be all the same grade?

A: No, we encourage teachers to build teams with diverse ages and abilities. 

Q: When will mentor teachers receive the stipends?

A: Teachers will receive $500 stipends after their teams' project proposal submission on Nov. 22.

Q: What are good resources for brainstorming project ideas?

A: The STEM Challenge Question Resources/Research Backgrounder is a great starting point to explore research and technological solutions making the world safer. We will also distribute a forthcoming document outlining the research and work of our industry employer partners, to inspire students and spur creativity in developing their own projects.


Sponsorship for the NM Governor's STEM Challenge is generously provided by:

AFRL logo.     Boeing logo.     Decartes Labs logo

Chevron logo     Deloitte Logo     El Paso Electric logo

Facebook logo Intel logo    Meow Wolf logo

           Freeport McMoRan logo

N3B logoPattern Energy LogoSandia Labs logo

Virgin Galactic logo     RS21 logoURENCO logo


 Presbyterian logo