Students broaden intelligence with fair

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Mesa Elementary School sixth grader Helena Shepard dusts a can for a fingerprint during the Multiple Intelligences Festival at Mesa Elementary School. To view more photos from the festival, visit

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ Staff Writer

In one day, the students of Mesa Elementary School watched a fiddler fiddle, a painter paint, a roper rope, state police collect fingerprints, and listened to authors talk about writing.

The Multiple Intelligences Festival at Mesa Elementary School embodies an educational theory developed by Howard Gardner that describes an array of different kinds of intelligences. The school operates on the theory that people are smart in a variety of ways.

Jan Cox, the school’s principal, said that it’s important the students to understand the philosophy behind the school.

“People are not just IQ smart, they’re smart in a lot of different ways. We encourage out kids in that way and offer different things to do,” Cox said.

The festival has been an annual event for four years, Cox said.

“We bring in a lot of different people with a lot of different talents so the children can experience that,” she said. “They begin to understand that they have different talents and they see adults with different talents, and it broadens their idea of what they can do when they grow up.”

Among the numerous exhibits in the hallways and classrooms of the school was a hands-on experience for the sixth-grade students in which New Mexico State Police officers brought in black powder and soda cans so the students could lift latent prints.

The students paired up and lightly dusted their can under the instruction of Sgt. Gary Smith of the New Mexico State Police Crime Scene Investigations Unit and officer David O’Leary.

Smith said he enjoys talking to students about what he does because though television has drawn children’s attention to the field, it has romanticized crime scene investigating.

“Seeing what we do first hand shows them that our job isn’t easy. They get a better understanding of what it really is,” Smith said.

Artist Shirley DeMaio, who demonstrated how to add details to a painting, said art opens the students’ minds now as well as later.

“Painting shows that there is a colorful world out there that they may not be tapping into right now.”