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El Paso ISD students ready to take KTSM Weather Fest by storm

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – Oct. 17) – Rain or shine, El Paso ISD will compete against area school districts in KTSM’s annual Weather Fest on Oct. 23 at Ascarate Park.

The 12 El Paso ISD teams selected to participate have been busy working on innovative, weather-themed experiments and expect to take the competition by storm. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 23.

“Weather Fest is an event where students can come together and show off their creative and intellectual skills in a fun atmosphere,” said KTSM chief meteorologist Monica Cortez. “I loved science fairs but hated using the whiteboard and the structural format of it all, so I decided to create an environment where students can take whatever approach they feel best fits their creative and learning needs, whether that is through song and dance, hands-on displays, etc., and collaborate with their peers in constructing a weather-related science project.”

El Paso ISD teams competing include: Young Women’s Academy and Coronado, Transmountain Early College and Burges high schools; Guillen, Brown, Wiggs and Richardson middle schools; and Whitaker, Clendenin, Guerrero and Cielo Vista elementary schools. They will compete against schools from the Ysleta, Socorro and Clint school districts for the coveted Ultimate Weather Warrior award. Prizes also will be given for first place in elementary, middle and high school.

“I’m happy that we got selected to participate. It’s a big honor,” said Lilliana McArthur, a Richardson eighth grader. “Weather Fest is a cool thing where we get to learn and research things we didn’t know about and share that information.”

Her team is researching the El Paso dust storms and the elements that blow through the atmosphere in the Chihuahuan Desert. Not too far away at TMECHS, two teams are preparing for Weather Fest. One team is testing the effects of humidity and dry climates on mood by using Madagascar roaches while another is researching antibiotic resistance in a dry climate.

“Our experiment is to see why El Paso is one of the happiest cities,” said freshman Marley Marquez. “We know one of the most important ones is climate. We live in a dry climate, so we are trying to see if happier people are in a drier climate versus a humid climate. The cockroaches are an easy model to use to test mood.”

Across town at Guerrero Elementary, students also are researching humidity. Specifically, they’re trying to figure out at what percentage of humidity evaporative coolers stop cooling.

“I am really enjoying participating in Weather Fest,” said fourth grader Mia Meza. “It’s an honor.”

Cortez has been visiting participating schools throughout the community to meet with students and learn about their projects in anticipation of Weather Fest. She hopes to share her passion for meteorology and the STEM field.

“I want students to realize how incredible the STEM field is and how much fun it can be,” she said. “Through Weather Fest, I hope I am able to give students an opportunity to shine on a much bigger stage and delve into this incredible field in a unique way.”

See photos

Story by Reneé de Santos
Photos by Leonel Monroy, Jr.