RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Monte Vista High School’s STEM program worked with the Rio Grande County Weed District to implement an educational opportunity for four seniors to work for a scholarship through Rio Grande County.
During the regular Rio Grande County work session on Feb. 9, Rio Grande County Commissioners and Rio Grande County Weed District Director Armando Ross presented $200 scholarships to seniors Chevelle Garcia, Hayden Oberrick, Chloe Hindes, and Jessica Duran. The students worked under the supervision of Monte Vista STEM teacher Chris Vance to learn about and create 3-D models of some of the noxious weeds that can be found throughout the county.
Students rendered 3-D models using a 3-D printer through the STEM program at the Monte Vista High School that could be used as educational tools by the Weed District. Each model and design took a considerable amount of time to create, often pulling students in during Christmas break to work on the final products.
“These students had to do a lot to get this far, and they did an awesome job by the end of it,” said Ross. Ross approached Vance about a potential partnership program for the senior class and the results were nothing less than fantastic. Ross plans to use the models when educating the public on the dangers of noxious weeds in the county.
“They really did an awesome job,” Ross said.
Vance said that the students did the project on their own outside of class.
“To be honest, this wasn’t really a class. I have a 3-D printing class, but I put together this group because of their different talents," Vance said. "They all come from different areas of the high school if you will, they were good at different things. Projects like this show them the hidden talents they may have. I learned a lot about the students and the different strengths that they had.”
Vance said that at first, he wasn’t sure if they would be able to complete the project in time.
“This was quite an ordeal," Vance said. "When you 3-D print, you can’t just make a plan, model it up and then just let it go. I even pulled them in over Christmas break to work on the project and we sat there for days and days going through different types of scenarios and different versions and then we started to accomplish what we were doing, and it all started to come together.”
“It all is hand-sculpted on the modeling software itself. They were all very different and it takes a while to pull the model out of the software. It came out with good results,” said senior Oberrick.
Students received their scholarship awards from commissioners, Ross, and Vance, and were thanked for their dedication to the project. Ross hopes to work with other schools within the county on future projects.