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New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation names student winners of the “Sustainable Solutions for a Better Tomorrow” video contest

Alex and Adrian Hanna explain their proposed composting project for a New Mexico Museum of Natural History contest.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Living in a sustainable world becomes an ever pressing issue as human populations continue to climb.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation, the fundraising arm of the museum, tapped into local young minds to come up with some ideas. The foundation, as part of its “Sustainable Solutions for a Better Tomorrow” video contest, asked elementary and middle school students across New Mexico for ideas on how to protect the environment for future generations.

The videos had to be no more than three minutes long and incorporate science, technology, engineering, art or math. Students were allowed to explore the many topics including managing resources in an urban setting, conserving water, reducing waste, improving designs and materials used in technology, reducing waste and preserving natural spaces.

The foundation announced the winners of the contest earlier this month. Coming in first place in the elementary category are Manzano Day School students Alex and Adrian Hanna. The boys made a video titled “Compost Crew” that explored ways households could recycle food waste to be used as compost. They also explored the amount of food that is wasted every year.

Albuquerque Academy student Sofia Carrillo and Sandia Prep students Sabrina, Anja and Mila Stefanovic placed first in the middle school contest for their video about planting gardens for the homeless. The gardens, they said, would provide access to healthy food for those experiencing homelessness while also helping the environment. Gardens provide spaces for pollinators like bees and an area to use compost.

Mila Stefanovic stands next to a drawing of a proposed garden that homeless people could use to grow vegetables.

Abigail Eaton, executive director of the foundation, said this is the third year they have held a video contest. Each year, the theme of the videos coincides with a current exhibit. This year’s inspiration was taken from the “Sayaka Ganz: Reclaimed Creations” exhibit that runs at the museum through Nov. 6. Ganz makes sculptures with reclaimed plastic and other discarded household objects.

“We want to spotlight what we are doing in the museum,” she said. “It’s a way to get kids engaged.”

A panel of volunteers judged the videos. Eaton said they looked for ideas that were thought out and were potentially doable.

Covid-19 changed the way they did the contest this year. The call for entries went out in January but Eaton said they extended the deadline through May because schools closed and it was harder to get the word out to potential participants. She said they also noticed less entries from fewer places.

Last year, there were more than 40 but only 21 this year. And they mostly came from the Albuquerque area instead of from around the state. Usually the winning videos are shown on the large screen inside the museum’s DynaTheater, but they will have to forgo that this year, Eaton said.

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