Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Students at Picuris Pueblo take part in online science festival

Laboratory organizes two afternoons of learning and exploration
November 23, 2020
Melinda Higgins from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy talks to the students from Picuris Pueblo.

Melinda Higgins from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy talks to the students from Picuris Pueblo.

Contacts  

  • Director, Community Partnerships Office
  • Kathy Keith
  • Email
“The response to the event was really positive. It was great that we could bring the sessions to them at this time.”- Janelle Vigil-Maestas

The Laboratory and its nonprofit partner Ogallala Commons helped more than 25 students from Picuris Pueblo take part in two afternoons of virtual education as part of a STEM and River Festival Nov. 9 and 10.

The students from grades 5 through 12 took part in interactive sessions covering everything from amphibians and beavers to black holes.

"In the past for different pueblos in the region, we've hosted a River Festival that looks at river ecosystems and their importance, and we've also organized a separate STEM Day that introduces the students to other science topics," says Janelle Vigil Maestas from the Laboratory's Community Partnerships Office, who helped plan the event. "But this year, it made sense to combine both across two afternoons."

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy provided some microscopes that work with smartphones or tablets, and students were introduced to using them by Melinda Higgins, the DOE's nuclear energy tribal STEM advisor. (Rita Baranwal, the assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, recently wrote about the use of the smartphone microscope for STEM education.)

Welcoming the students on the first day, Nan Sauer, senior director of the Partnerships and Pipeline Office at the Laboratory, hoped they would grow up and consider a career in science, saying they could have a role in solving some of the problems facing the world.

On the second afternoon, the Laboratory's student internships program director Cassandra Casperson gave an overview of the internship opportunities available at the Laboratory for high school and college students, and the programs at colleges in the region that lead to careers at the Laboratory.

"The response to the event was really positive," says Vigil Maestas. "It was great that we could bring the sessions to them at this time."