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FARMINGTON — A Hermosa Middle School sixth-grade science teacher has been awarded a presidential award for her effort to champion science education beyond the classroom.

Cindy Colomb was one of 213 math and science teachers nationwide selected as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, according to a White House press release. The teachers will receive their awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 8.

"The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our Nation’s success,” President Obama said in the press release.

Colomb was one of four teachers selected in New Mexico, including Bernadine Cotton from the Tombaugh Elementary School in Las Cruces, Kathleen Boerigter at Los Alamos High School and Kevin Gant from the Nex+Gen Academy in Albuquerque. A $10,000 cash prize was presented to each winner by the National Science Foundation as part of receiving the award.

"It's humbling. It's amazing," Colomb said about receiving the award.

She was nominated for the award by some of her former students, according to Principal Kelly Erickson.

“I think it’s pretty special someone went out of their way to nominate (Colomb),” Erickson said. “That means she had such an impact in their lives.”

Colomb has been teaching at Hermosa Middle School for about 15 years. She said she has had a lifelong love for science and hopes to impart that excitement to her students.

“Everyone loves science in my eyes,” Colomb said. “I want everyone to have a respect (of science) and everybody to have a curiosity and to feed that curiosity.”

Colomb has spend the last 12 years serving as the science fair director for the Farmington Municipal School District. She also has organized after-school projects designed to encourage students and parents to learn together, along with establishing programs that take students outside the classroom to learn about the world around them.

"I love science. I love the process," Colomb said. "I love the phenomena of our natural world and finding out more and learning more."

Parents and students have been participating in an after-school program for several years in which they dissect frogs and miniature sharks together. The program gives the students an opportunity to identify the animals’ circulatory, digestive and nervous systems alongside their parents.

Colomb recently completed a project in May called Trout in the Classroom in which 170 Hermosa students traveled to the Cottonwood Campground at Navajo Dam to release 100 triploid rainbow trout into the San Juan River. The students spent five months raising the fish from eggs before they were released in the wild.

She said the program provided students an opportunity to learn how to raise the fish, monitor the water quality in the tank, and study the growth and development of the trout. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and the San Juan Fly Fishing Federation sponsored the program.

During the trip, students learned to test the quality of the river water and studied microscopic water animals. Members of the fly fishing organization also taught students how to fly fish.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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