Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Colleen Wright
PORTALES – Walking into the Math office at Eastern New Mexico University this time of year, one cannot help but notice the secretary's desk piled high with Science Fair entries. For 17 years, this has become an annual ritual for Rosemary Mathews.
The entry forms are from students entering the Southeastern New Mexico Regional Science and Engineering Fair at ENMU. One of six regional science fairs affiliated with the Intel International Science and Enginering Fair, this Regional Fair has been held at Eastern since 1986. The competition is for sixth through twelfth graders in the southeastern part of the state. This year's fair is Saturday, March 1.
According to Rosemary, students entering regionals must have a sponsor. Most often students are sponsored by their science teachers, but exhibitors may also compete at regionals by having their parent or another adult sponsor them. Those who win first or second place in their scientific category at the science fair are invited to compete at the State Science Fair at New Mexico Tech University in Socorro, New Mexico, in April.
Rosemary has been the secretary for the science fair since it first came to Portales from NMMI in Roswell in 1986. "I had no idea how to run a science fair at that time," Rosemary admitted, adding that if were not for the "science fair recipe" she would have been lost. "The recipe, as I call it, is something they sent me that told me how to run a successful science fair," Rosemary explains. "It made things a lot easier for me when I was getting started."
Rosemary begins working on the event in the fall with a science fair Director. First, they send out a newsletter to all of the science teachers in the southeast region encouraging them to participate. Then they write to different businesses around Roosevelt County asking if they would be interested in contributing prizes. "We have never had trouble getting contributions for the competition," Rosemary says. "The community of Portales has been very generous."
Rosemary has been a member of the Association of Educational Office Personnel (AEOP) since she first started working at ENMU. At that time she worked at University Printing. "My job there was to make thousands of letters to prospective students for the whole university. That was in the 1980s before everyone got personal computers. I would also enter manuscripts on the computer for graduate students who were writing their theses and for professors who were publishing papers."
"When I first began organizing the fair years ago, I would have trouble sleeping," the seller of the winning ticket for AEOP's "Love Basket" says. "I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking, 'did I do this yet? did I finish that yet?'. But after 17 years I'm used to the stress."
"I'm glad the science fair is in the spring because gardening is my hobby. After a long brown winter when I see my daffodils blooming, I get a calming feeling knowing that I'll be able to get outside in my flower garden soon."
The science fair director this year is Dr. Robert McTaggart from the Physics Department. He and his Scientific Review Committee of Dr. Manuel Varela and Dr. Darren Pollock, both from Eastern's Biology Department, have been busy checking all the entries for compliance with the 2003 International Rules. "I do the clerical end of it, and the scientists take care of the scientific end of it," Rosemary said.
With the science fair approaching, Rosemary has her hands full. "I love doing it, but it is nice when the hectic pace is over and I see another successful science fair from the other side."
Rosemary Mathews – Knee-High in Paperwork (photo by Colleen Wright)