Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Laboratory volunteers step up to support education in the region

Major December events were: Hour of Code, Towering Above, and the New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge
December 21, 2020
The 2020 New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge was held virtually, unlike the 2019 version shown here, but Laboratory volunteers still volunteered to help make the event a success.

The 2020 New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge was held virtually, unlike the 2019 version shown here, but Laboratory volunteers still volunteered to help make the event a success.

Contacts  

  • Director, Community Partnerships Office
  • Kathy Keith
  • Email
“I keep hearing from new people who want to get involved, so that’s really encouraging.”- Janelle Vigil-Maestas

New Mexico schools felt the strain of distance learning and substitute teacher shortages in 2020, making the participation of Lab volunteers more vital than ever. Fortunately, employee interest in volunteering is growing.

“I keep hearing from new people who want to get involved,” says Janelle Vigil-Maestas of the Community Partnerships Office. “So that’s really encouraging.”

In fiscal year 2020, 321 LANL employees provided 3,018 service hours to educational and nonprofit organizations in Northern NM, impacting an estimated 6,420 students, teachers and community members.

The month of December kept teachers and lab volunteers busy. It kicked off with Hour of Code, one-hour tutorials in computer coding for students K-12, which took place in New Mexico schools and around the world the week of December 7-13. Forty-five virtual volunteers from Los Alamos and Sandia supported students in 80 classrooms across the state.

Next, the two New Mexico laboratories supplied volunteer judges (including 14 from Los Alamos) for the Towering Above Competition organized by New Mexico MESA in which middle- and high-school students build towers using only engineering principles plus paper, scissors, glue, and cellophane tape.

Laboratory engineers Melissa Espinosa and Benigno Sandoval represented the Laboratory at the second-annual New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge where STEM employers statewide supply two judges to evaluate student prototypes for cash rewards. The Laboratory award went to the team from Montel Del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe for their project “Garbage to Gas: Using Biodigesters to Create Energy.” Each of the nine students on the team received a $500 cash prize from the Laboratory.