Local youth excels in science know-how

TV Hagenah

Nikki Harman,a freshman at Tucumcari High School, competed in the Southeastern New Mexico Regional Science and Engineering Fair in Portales, March 6. As she has done before, for that matter as most of her family has done before, she did well.

The 15 year old received second place in her division of Environmental Science. She was also chosen as one of 400 students nationwide to receive the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, U. S. Regional Winner award for excellence for water-related science projects.

The Tucumcari High School freshman will have the opportunity to compete in the Water Environment Federation for a $2500 prize and an all-expense paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden, to compete at an international level. The International Stockholm Junior Water Prize is the most prestigious youth award for a high school water science research project.

Harman has qualified for the state contest twice before, but was only able to attend once before because of conflicts.
She, however, is not the only member of her family to take part in the New Mexico State Science Fair. Her mother, her grandmother and her grandfather have all taken part in the contest.

Harman’s project, “Fertilizer – Friend or Foe”, was also deemed worthy of the Natural History & Science Award of $100 and a NMMNH T-Shirt from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. She has also received an award for excellence and $25 from the American Association of University Women.

Harman started in the field of Environmental Science after being a member of Girl Scout Neighborhood 55 in Tucumcari.

“Really, That’s where a lot of this started,” said Harman about her background.

According to Harman, her project questions the benefits of household lawn products. She said people expect more from the grass in their yards these days because there are more and more fertilizers on the shelves to help people have the beautiful lawn they feel they need, but she said she wondered, “What do our beautiful lawns really cost us?”

Harman, the 15-year-old daughter of Brian and Stephanie Harman of Tucumcari. said that was the jumping off point of her project that has garnered so many awards.

She pointed out that phosphate is a common ingredient in fertilizer because it is needed for plant growth. But she questioned what happens to the extra phosphate that goes into lakes, streams, and rivers.

Harman said that water is one of New Mexico’s most valuable resources, but when the water we have is polluted by fertilizer, it can be harmful, even fatal to marine life. Without improved science and environmental education, the high school freshman said she fears decisions concerning New Mexico’s water’s future may continue to compound the state’s risks.

Harman will compete April 2-3 at the New Mexico State Science and Engineering Fair in Socorro. She will also compete April 18 in the Water Environment Federation state competition.