New Mexico 2023

nex+Gen Academy

Albuquerque, NM

3rd Overall

Safety InSight

PROJECT GOAL: Students are exposed to harmful chemicals released by vaping devices while in enclosed spaces at school, preventing equitable access to clean and safe air. We want to give students the opportunity to know what they are being exposed to so they can make informed choices about the spaces they enter.

For this project, we conducted thorough research into the dangers of vaping. Applying this to the driving question, there have been many realizations of the inequity that vape, and the traces left behind contribute to the inequity for students in schools. According to a survey conducted in all grade levels at our school (98 responses), about 75% of students experience vaping (at least once per month) with 17% of students not wanting to go into the bathrooms at all because of vaping. One major place for vaping is in the bathroom, where students will go to vape without the watchful eyes of teachers and staff. Unknowing students walk into these small spaces and become exposed to harmful chemicals. According to the American Heart Association, secondhand vape “Exposure to fine particles, or microscopic particles capable of reaching deep into the lungs, can worsen heart and lung disease, and even lead to premature death”. With 2.5 million teens vaping there are serious health risks for anyone who unfortunately gets caught in a space someone else vaped. These health risks are a primary factor in the push for reduced vape exposure at our school and throughout the United States.

Solomon Sledge, Areli VH Jensenpopup

TEAM MEMBERS: Solomon Sledge, Areli VH Jensen

TEAM ADVISOR(S): Laura White


Chaparral Middle School

Chaparral, NM

2nd Overall

Making Streets Safer

PROJECT GOAL: Our rural community in Chaparral, NM faces challenges with speeding and stop sign violations due to limited resources like traffic signals, street lighting, and a local police department. This project aims to address these inequities and reduce speeding, creating a safer environment for everyone.

According to the National Safety Council, “Speeding was a factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2020, killing an average of over 30 people per day.” In our community, there were six deaths and at least nine people injured in car accidents just last year. Unfortunately, two teenagers passed away due to a failure to stop at a stop sign in Chaparral in November 2022. After doing additional research, we found a study conducted by the National Institute of Health that states that speeding was reduced by 20% to 2% after the radars were installed on roads. To better understand how to direct the project’s design, we conducted an interview with Craig, a parent in Chaparral, and Sergeant Pacheco, a local Sergeant. Craig explained that income is a barrier he and other users in our community might face. Since we live in a rural community, the cost of traffic signals and radars was the main concern for him. Sergeant Pacheco mentioned that there are only two units in our area at a time, which is a struggle. Sergeant Pacheco also mentioned that there is a huge issue with sign violations and citizens speeding throughout the community.

Sophia Chumley, Adelynn Gamboa, Abraham Gurrola, Elianna Sanchezpopup

TEAM MEMBERS: Sophia Chumley, Adelynn Gamboa, Abraham Gurrola, Elianna Sanchez

TEAM ADVISOR(S): Rina Viramontes


Ling Faith-Heuertz, New Mexico 2023 MESA Director | Anita Gonzales, Rules Committee | State Website

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