Applying science

Science fair winners tend toward the practical

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
The Navajo Nation middle and high school division science fair kicks off with 250 entrants March 2 at Red Rock Park.


When Kelly Charley, senior at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington, New Mexico, isn’t living in the dorms, she is at home in Teec Nos Pos with her grandparents.

Being raised by her grandparents, Charley knows all too well how much work goes into keeping their home warm. When she is home, she is either chopping wood or bringing in coal, but when she’s not there to do the chore, her grandparents must complete the arduous task themselves. This gave her an idea for a science fair project.

“Being away from them is hard, and knowing that they have to bring in coal every day,” said Charley. “When I do it, I know it’s laborious and chopping wood is a laborious task as well.”

With that, she decided to build a system to heat a traditional home. She used two solar technologies: heating with a solar collector and using a photovoltaic panel to power a pump that would circulate the antifreeze inside the system “so it would be heated.”

“I was able to heat the water inside the home to 21.4 Celsius (70.5 Fahrenheit),” said Charley. “This project was built around the idea that I would someday create something my grandparents would use inside their own home.”

This labor of love won her first place in the engineering category and third overall at this year’s Navajo Nation Science Fair held at Red Rock State Park last week.

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Categories: Education

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at