Congressman Luján Visits James Rodriguez Elementary School in Española: Meets with Students Who Attended White House Science Fair

Ben Ray at school 1B

Image above Congressman Lujan visits with James Rodriguez students and Michelle Martinez.

Congressman Luján Visits James Rodriguez Elementary School in Española:  Meets with Students Who Attended White House Science Fair

ESPAÑOLA – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District visited James Rodriguez Elementary School in Española Tuesday to visit with students, teachers, and faculty and to learn about the science projects the students have been working on.  As previously reported by the Valley Daily Post (Earlier article HERE), last month, three students from the school were selected to visit Washington, D.C. to participate in the White House Science Fair and present their project.  Casandra Dauz, Jose Valdez, and Jaleena Rolon were joined by their teacher Jimmy Lara.

“Today I had the opportunity to visit with many bright young students at James Rodriguez Elementary who have been hard at work on innovative projects that have helped spark their interest in the STEM fields,” congressman Luján said.  “Congratulations to Jaleena, Jose, and Casandra for being selected to visit the White House and for representing New Mexico and making us proud.  Their ‘City of Crystal Water’ illustrates their creativity and inventive spirit.  I want to also commend Mr. Lara for his dedication to his students and his efforts to teach them the science and math skills that will be so important to their future.”

For their project, the students were challenged to work as team over four months to imagine, design, and build a city of the future.  This year’s theme was Feeding Future Cities, requiring students to select one vegetable and one protein and design a way to grow enough of each within the city limits to feed its citizens; build a model of their city using recycled materials; write a brief narrative promoting the city; and present their city before a panel of judges.

Congressman Lujan hears presentation on science project “City of Crystal Water”

The students “City of Crystal Water” included fish as a health source of protein and carrots that can be grown without soil using hydroponics.  The team used hydro energy and wind turbines to provide energy to the city.  They incorporated Spanish, English, American Sign Language, and Tewa into their presentation to reflect the cultural diversity of their communities and earned the Most Unique Architectural Model at the New Mexico regional competition.

Congressman Luján has been a strong advocate for STEM education and expressed his support for projects that encourage students to engage in the STEM fields.  He has introduced legislation to strengthen STEM education and training programs to help teachers and schools better engage students in the STEM fields by providing additional professional development resources and facilitating collaboration among the business and education communities to better identify STEM skills needed in the workforce.

“The STEM fields provide opportunities for good jobs in growing sectors and it is critical that we engage students at an early age to encourage them to purse STEM education.  We can show kids that instead of just using the latest app, they can be the ones creating it,” added Luján.