Española Students Participate in White House Science Fair
WASHINGTON – This past Monday a sixth grade team from James Rodriguez Elementary
school in Española were part of an exclusive group of 100 elementary, middle and high school
students from throughout the nation invited to present their inventions to President Obama at the
annual White House Science Fair.
The 2015 Science Fair highlighted the importance of encouraging more women and minorities in
science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career fields.
The Española team including Casandra Dauz, Jose Valdez and Jaleena Rolon and their teacher
Jimmy Lara set up their project inside the White House and presented their creation to a variety
of attendees, including President Obama. Their project titled “City of Crystal Water,” a city of
the future where they were challenged to choose two foods (one vegetable and one protein) and
design a way to grow enough of each within the future city borders to feed all of the citizens for
at least one growing season.
The Espanola team selected fish and carrots as their key crops which can be grown in concert
through the use of fish farms and hydroponics. Other problems they had to solve included energy
generation and distribution.
What made the Española team stand out above all the rest was their recognition that in a city of
the future there is a mixing of many cultures and customs. The Española team incorporated four
languages into their City presentation: Spanish, English, American Sign Language and Tewa.
Jose is from the Santa Clara Pueblo, Cassandra’s church accommodates the hearing impaired,
and Jaleena is the daughter of recent immigrants. The team earned recognition for Most Unique
Architectural Model at the New Mexico Regional Future City Competition.
Sixth-grade teacher Jimmy Lara has been an elementary educator for 26 years and has been a
driving force in incorporating technology and STEM topics into the curriculum at James
Rodriguez Elementary. He and his colleagues at his school have solicited assistance from amny
resources, including Los Alamos National Laboratory to help make science and technology a
central focus of their school’s curriculum.
The impact of these efforts can be seen in the success of these students on a national stage. At the
event in Washington Lara was quoted saying “For two Hispanic girls and a member of the
Pueblo to be invited to the White House Science Fair was a huge honor for our school and
community.” He is correct.