Archaeology and Atomic Adventures in New Mexico
Santa Fe — with a long history of science and technology— has kept true to its STEM roots. The city boasts numerous opportunities that guarantee any STEM field trips succeed in its goal to educate and inspire students. Whether it’s through its universities’ hard focus on STEM, its numerous nature sites that offer an up-close and hands-on scientific experience or month-long manufacturing events, Santa Fe is the place to be for STEM.
Museums & Zoos
No museum is drenched in history quite like the Bradbury Science Museum, a window into the laboratory responsible for developing the nuclear bomb. A mix of the past, present and future of the Los Alamos Laboratory that to this day continues to develop the latest technologies to keep this country safe. The Bradbury Science Museum offers over 60 interactive exhibits across three galleries all dedicated solely to science, history and technology of the past and present. Students will have a chance to learn just how much math and science the developing the world’s most powerful weapon took and how a group of scientist redefined warfare as we know it in only 27 months.
New Mexico is famous for being the birthplace of the Atomic Era, and just outside of Santa Fe in Albuquerque, the Nuclear Museum stands ready to educate students on the power of atomic energy. Focused on the past, present and future of nuclear science, the Nuclear Museum host a number of exhibits like the “What’s Up With U” (focusing on the all the uses and dangers of uranium) and “Nuclear Medicine” (illustrating how radiation treatment and nuclear medicine has saved thousands of lives). The museum keeps the focus on science while diversifying so that every student can find something to be interested in. With specific “Science Tours” and numerous events throughout the year, the Nuclear Museum is a must-visit spot for any up-and-coming scientists.
Universities & Academia
STEM has a true home at the University of New Mexico, so much so they have a whole center dedicated to fostering a love for it in their own students. Visiting students can tailor their experience to suit their interest with tours highlighting many of the great aspects of the school science and engineering facilities. The Engineering Tour, for instance, takes students through many of the research labs that have a home at the college. Afterwards, students can meet with the Engineering recruitment team, where their questions regarding the major and possible career paths related can be answered.
Similarly, focused tours are offered for students interested in the school’s Architecture and Business colleges. The school’s Chemistry department also regularly hosts field trips for interested K-12 students and schools to tour the school research labs and teaching labs. Both graduate and undergraduate students at the university are involved in all of these events, and such facilitate their own learning as well as any lucky students able to embark on this STEM journey.
Industry & Technology
October doesn’t just mean Halloween for New Mexico, it also brings with it Manufacturing Month. Facilitated by groups like the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, companies all throughout October open their facilities and factories to public and school tours, showing off their latest idea and technology. Students are able to walk around working facilities and interact with workers to really get a sense of what paths might lead to these jobs and what it takes to succeed in the field.
In the past, companies like Rader Awning have participated in the event, with the company’s co-owner even entertaining the student’s questions at the end. In the past, over 3,850 students participated in the event in some form, with 150 directly attending tours and the others attending career fairs focused on manufacturing. Manufacturing Month is a yearly event with some big opportunities for any school group smart enough to plan their STEM adventure around it.
New Mexico is known for its beautiful wildlife and landscape, and the Pajarito Environmental Education Center highlights the best of both while allowing students an up-close and personal look at some of the native animals. Sporting a planetarium, several exhibits and hiking trails, groups have a variety of options when planning a trip to the Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Group tours can choose which of the many options best suits them, including a garden tour, hands-on science and craft activities, guided hikes and more. Coupled with daily and weekly events highlighting different aspects of nature or animal life, science is truly alive at this outdoor center.
New Mexico’s arid climate offers a home to a unique and diverse plant-life in need of protection from invasive species, all of which is illustrated at the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens. With two locations spanning more than 55 acres, the Botanical Gardens are an interesting mix of wildlife preserve and garden home. Younger students have the opportunity to engage in the garden’s Science at the Cienega program, which educates middle school and younger students on the three distinct ecosystems in the area (riparian, transitional and dry upland) while also developing environmental observation and engaging them in field investigations using technology to collect data. The gardens also offer guided tours for a more casual, quicker experience.
Students can get a real taste of archeology at Bandelier National Park, the ancient home of the Pueblo civilization. The park offers students an opportunity to hike along its more than 70 miles worth of trails, exploring the rich flora and fauna unique to the arid climate of New Mexico and the beauty the park has to offer. Alongside a park ranger, groups can take a hike down the Main Loop Trail, visiting many archeological sites along the way.
The ranger will explain the culture and history of the ancient Puebloan people with sites like the Big Kiva (a large communal gathering site) and the Tyuonyi (the ruins of a former two-story building used to store food), sure to spark an interest in archeology and history in students. The Bandelier National Park visitor center is host to a number of Puebloan artifacts such as pottery, tools, and other daily life items.