STEM Programs for Kids in Las Cruces | SETM Summer Camps |
tech trek group of young ladies.

If there’s a young person in your household who finds engineering fascinating, has eyes full of stars, or would love to be hands-on with technology, local educational programs can help your student prepare for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers or just have fun and explore different paths the world may offer.


“In LCPS, we have many different STEM programs such as Vex IQ, BEST Robotics, Science Olympiad, and First Lego League, to name a few, “said Stephanie Hofacket, LCPS associate director of Teaching and Learning, K-12 Science. “Many teachers dedicate quite a bit of time outside of school hours to work with students and prepare them for competitions.”

young boy participating in a STEM research program at his school.“We also have a Challenger Learning Center, and often we run missions for our students in LCPS,” said Stephanie. “We ran missions with all of our sixth-grade LCPS classes this past fall semester and are gearing up to begin our Challenger in the Classroom program with all fifth-grade LCPS classes in 2022.”

Two LCPS high schools entered the Third Annual New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge in December 2020. Mayfield High School’s team built J.E.O.R.G.E. (Junk Extracting Operator Removing Garbage Everyday) and described their invention as inspired by “the amount of trash that is seen lying around, and the countless hours our amazing janitors spend cleaning up this trash to keep our campus looking beautiful. J.E.O.R.G.E. is there to help make their job a little easier, more sanitary, and he’s user friendly.” Each student received a $500 award.

The Centennial High School team developed a prophylactic knee brace that detects undesirable movements. Sensors in the brace alert the user in real time by text message through a corresponding app to correct the user’s gait patterns and prevent meniscus injury and tears. The Boeing Company sponsored a $500 award for each student.

For more information about STEM at LCPS, reach out to Stephanie Hofacket at [email protected].


New Mexico State University’s STEM Outreach Center collaborates with LCPS, Gadsden Independent School District (GISD), and Hatch Valley Public Schools (HVPS) to build a K–16 STEM pipeline by working with schools, educators, and families. This program enables students to have STEM-enriched programming throughout Doña Ana County.

“Our after-school programs take place at the local elementary and middle schools,” said Sara Morales, associate director of the New Mexico STEM Outreach Center. “We focus on enrichment opportunities that extend learning through STEM-based curriculum.” She explained that the programming fosters socio-emotional learning, includes homework help and a free snack or lunch, and supports adult learning and family events.

a group of summer camp kids at the observetory“Serving New Mexico’s children and youth is our priority,” said Sara. “We seek to spark the imagination and inspire today’s investigators to become tomorrow’s innovators. We want to nurture 21st-century skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Their staff designs academic and enrichment curricula that provide necessary resources for engaged learning and supports programming at more than 60 school sites. The curricula include COUNT (Creating Opportunities Using Numerical Thinking), DiMA (Digital Media Academy), Readers Theatre and Story Exploration (building language fluency and expression through STEM concepts), Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically, focusing on scientific inquiry), Math Snacks (helping middle-school learners understand math concepts), and SEMAA (Science, Engineering, and Math Aerospace Academy, a NASA program that teaches about aerospace).

Along with after-school programming, the STEM Outreach Center offers summer camps for students entering grades six through nine. Camps run weekly in June with morning and afternoon sessions available. This year camps will explore topics such as drones, hiking, and video editing. Camps will be in-person on the NMSU main campus unless otherwise specified. All camps are funded by local and state grants and free to participants. The STEM Outreach Center also partners with community organizations to offer summer camps for additional grades levels at various community sites. Partners include Gym Magic, Wild West Gym, Cruces Creatives, Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, and the City of Las Cruces.

A full list of summer camps is coming in March 2022. Get more information about programs at the STEM Outreach Center including updated information on summer camp, here.


AAUW Tech Trek is a week-long STEM summer camp for eighth-grade girls at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) in Socorro. Through Tech Trek, girls are encouraged to think of themselves as future scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer specialists. AAUW Tech Trek New Mexico has been a 501(c)(3) organization since 2014.

“For many of the girls, this could be their first time away from home,” said Judy McGuire, former AAUW board member. “But it gives them a chance to live in the college environment and see themselves in the environment of their future careers.”

The campers attend STEM core classes and hands-on workshops run by women in STEM professions. A day-long field trip provides girls with a chance to learn about STEM sites in New Mexico and visit STEM workplace environments.

Potential campers are nominated by their seventh-grade math and science teachers, and applications include writing an essay. A Tech Trek committee works with dozens of volunteers throughout the state who read each essay and provide logistical support before and at the camp. While the deadline has passed to apply for 2022, plan ahead for 2023.

“Every year, 100 to 150 girls apply,” said Judy, “but we only have 60 spots that are supported by funding that we receive from generous local businesses and corporations.” Families pay only a $50 fee for the week-long camp, giving girls from various backgrounds the opportunity to attend.

All Tech Trek camps include a professional women’s night during which female STEM professionals from the community speak and interact with the girls about career and life goals. These women serve as role models and provide key insights into working in traditionally male-dominated fields.

For more information about Tech Trek, go to


Innoventure is NMSU’s Arrowhead Center’s K-12 entrepreneurship education program. Innoventure participants learn a wide range of skills, including problem-solving, goal setting, communication, public speaking, teamwork, decision-making, ethics, and financial literacy.
Innoventure Jr. helps elementary school students understand the concept of exchanging money for products and services while helping them discover their own entrepreneurial talents.

young man in outdoor summer campFor middle and high school-age students, Innoventure Challenge helps students to think like entrepreneurs while designing and creating a simple product prototype.

“We had 19 teams compete in round one and 26 teams in round two of our Innoventure Challenge last semester,” said Brooke Montgomery, Innoventure director. “Teams came from 11 middle and high schools across the state of New Mexico, totaling 270 middle and high school student participants.”

Innoventure Challenge has four rounds each year, and the winners of each round (two middle school winners and one high school winner) compete in a final challenge at NMSU, typically in April.

“Each round is STEM- and entrepreneur-based,” said Brooke. “Student teams are given four weeks to complete the projects. Teachers, MESA [Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement] advisors, and other advisors lead each team at their schools.”

The challenges focus on needs specific to New Mexico. For example, the theme for round one was automation, and teams were tasked to consider products to improve agriculture through automation. For round two, the theme was water management and distribution, and teams were asked to think of technology to allow farmers to use their water more efficiently or deal with a weather-related incident.

The winners for round one were Sandia Preparatory School at the high school level and Truth or Consequences Middle School at the middle school level. Sandia Prep invented a system to plow, plant, and install a watering system in a field with a robotic water hose installation and a trough with a hole on the bottom to plow and plant seeds. The Truth or Consequences team, the “Foxy Rangers,” invented the Postbot9000 to insert T-posts.

Get more information on Arrowhead Center’s Innoventure, here.


New Mexico Technology Student Association (NMTSA), managed through NMSU’s College of Engineering, is the STEM and technical career student organization for New Mexico. Their hybrid state conference will be held March 11 – 13 at NMSU and is open to students in middle and high school. Schools that want to be part of the program can reach out to NMTSA at


Written by Cassie McClure

Courtesy photos

Originally published in Neighbors magazine.

Posted by

Featured Businesses