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STEM growth: Fiesta mixes fun with science, technology and mathematics

Making science, technology, engineering and mathematics fun is the goal of Explora’s NM Science Fiesta.

The fiesta, which began on May 14 and runs through Monday, May 21, features a number of activities, including Classroom Connections and Explora’s Adult Night “Don’t Try This at Home,” from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight for ages 18 and older.

Another fiesta activity, BioBlitz, will feature walks every half-hour from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 19. Experts will help participants find and identify plants and animals that live near Old Town. A sign-up tent will be located west of the corner of Mountain and 18th Street.

The largest event of the fiesta is the NM Science Fiesta Expo, which takes place at Tiguex Park and a section of 18th Street, with robotics and other activities at Explora and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. There will be more than 70 presenters at the fiesta.

Albuquerque first lady Elizabeth Keller, who is a STEM professional and the honorary chairwoman of this year’s fiesta, will give a welcome speech at noon Saturday on the main stage on 18th Street. Keller is a principal systems analyst at Sandia National Laboratories. Live performances and presentations will precede and follow Keller. “Science of Break Dancing” will take place at 11:20 a.m. Later, ABQ BioPark Raptors will bring some of their birds of prey, and there will be demonstrations by the Air Force Research Laboratory New Mexico, Explora STEM-NM’s 12 Months of Math, and Science Girl.

“The Dancing Turtle LLC is going to do about a 15-minute presentation where they will be break dancing and students from Nex+Gen Academy will explain the physics of that, of their different moves, and how science makes it happen,” said Brooke Hajny, Explora educator and Science Fiesta Expo project manager.

The NM Science Fiesta Expo was created to not only praise science but also increase STEM awareness by connecting people with STEM professionals in the community. The Classroom Connections program sends scientists to seven Albuquerque schools to work with about 500 students.

“We just really want to celebrate the roles that science plays in our daily lives, which is from things we eat to the living world outside to the all the technology around us,” Hajny said. “We just think that is really important and we want to bring access to families and communities that may not have very much interaction with science in their daily lives.”

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