Freshman explores universe for regional science fair entry

By William Thompson

Portales High School freshman G.T. “Teddy” Gordon began his foray into science at the age of seven when he began taking the engines out of remote-controlled cars. He wanted to see how they worked.

He also made electric fans out of the engines.

Gordon’s latest scientific effort, a display called “The Soaring Solar System” will be judged Saturday at the Southeastern New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair at Eastern New Mexico University.

“My project is about how big the universe is,” Gordon says, “No one really knows how big the universe is.”

Gordon gleaned most of his information from NASA Web sites. He’s been at his research the past two weeks.

“I found out there is a 10th planet. It’s not been named yet,” he said. “It took a very powerful telescope to find that. It’s 97 times farther from the sun than Earth is. It’s made of ice because the warmth of the sun can’t reach it.”

Gordon’s science teacher Margaret Arguello said Gordon isn’t necessarily smarter than other science students, but his level of interest is unmatched.

“He puts forth the effort. He always asks questions,” Arguello said. “He put his mind to it to do this project and he put forth the effort.”

Gordon lives at the Baptist Children’s Home in Portales. In the past he attended schools in the Santa Fe area where his family still lives.

“The other schools I went to were bigger and I was always getting into trouble,” Gordon said. “But now things are a lot better here in Portales because it’s a smaller school and the Baptist Children’s Home teaches responsibility and self-sufficiency.”

Gordon remembers with a sense of humor one past episode of trouble he got into.

“I started taking apart my dad’s car engine. I didn’t take it all apart, but it was really squeaking whenever my Dad drove it,” Gordon said. “My Dad figured it was because I was taking it apart to see how it worked. I got into a lot of trouble over that.”

SInce his early days of taking apart toy car engines, Gordon said he has taken apart blow dryers and CD players. He also took his Dad’s drill apart, but by then his Dad was used to his antics.

Gordon said he wants to be either a lawyer, a teacher or a geologist, although he’s open to a wide variety of career paths. His interest in geology led to his current interest in the formation of solar systems, galaxies and the universe at large.

“If our Earth was just one degree off it’s planetary course around the sun, it would be too hot or too cold to support human life,” Gordon said.

Gordon is the lone Portales schools entrant in the science fair. Arguello said other Portales students simply had too many other things going on and didn’t have time for the science fair this year. She also said teachers have been busy recently adopting text books for next year.

“I’ve heard that it (science fair participation) might be made mandatory next year for eighth and ninth graders, she said.
Science fair judging begins at 8 a.m. Saturday inside the Campus Union Ballroom at ENMU. The fair is divided into two divisions, sixth through eighth grade and ninth through 12th grade.