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No longer on burrowed time: Students celebrate contest win with Mojave Max

Updated May 17, 2024 - 7:23 pm

Mojave Max, meet Kiera.

Students of Goldfarb Elementary School greeted the famous tortoise Thursday at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas during a celebration for a classmate who won a contest to guess when Max would emerge from his burrow.

The contest winner, Kiera S., and her teacher, Kimberly Tyler, each received a laptop computer. Each student also got a medal, and the class also received a trophy.

Twenty-three students got to watch the 20-year-old tortoise walk around and munch on a buffet of grape leaves and desert willow flowers spread across the floor of a conference room.

The fourth grader guessed Max would emerge on April 23 at 2:45 p.m., coming closer to the actual time than the other 4,100 Clark County elementary students who took part in the competition. Max lumbered out of his burrow at 3:09 p.m., just 24 minutes later than the guessed time.

It was his second-latest emergence in the contest’s 24-year history. Max is the mascot of the Clark County Desert Conservation Program.

Keira gave credit to Tyler, a Gifted and Talented Education specialist. Tyler showed the students how to analyze the past dates and times of Max’s emergence to judge when the tortoise would likely come out this year.

“She gave us sheets for other times that Max came out, and so I thought maybe it’s a later day, and then I just decided a time,” Keira said.

In addition to analyzing past emergence dates and times, Tyler said students prepped for their contest guesses by learning about desert tortoises and weather prediction.

Goldfarb has its own resident tortoise, Goldie, who was discovered when the school was being built in the mid-1990s and plays a big part in educating students about tortoises, she said.

“It was a lot of fun and a lot of work,” Tyler said. “(The students) said, by the time they were done, they really wanted to make those guesses because they were done with data.”

Keira said it felt “really great” to win the competition.

“It couldn’t have happened to a greater girl,” Tyler said.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com.

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