SPOKANE, Wash. — Instead of putting the books away during spring break, more than 100 Spokane eighth graders will be using their time off to hone their science skills in preparation for the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Middle School Science Competition to take place 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, at the East Central Community Center gymnasium, 500 South Stone St.

Students from all six District No. 81 middle schools will test their skills in head-to-head competition by applying science principles to engineering events and logic games such as Mancala, 9-Man Morris, Hex and Tangrams. The competition is sponsored by the Spokane MESA Center at Washington State University Spokane.

“These teen-agers have worked hard to design and creatively build structures out of household materials that will score well in competition,” said Keith Orchard, MESA Middle School Coordinator. “They have been practicing all year preparing for the opportunity to test their skills in this science event.”

The engineering challenge will have the students match their inventions against those of their peers. Activities include building a tall tower out of paper and straws, a crate that can protect an egg from three drops of more than 10 feet, a catapult that will launch a miniature marshmallow, and a car that will float on a cushion of air down a track. Competitions will be judged by community members from Agilent Technologies, WSU Spokane and high school juniors and seniors enrolled in the MESA program.

Finalists will present between 2 and 2:45 p.m. with an awards ceremony to follow from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. Plaques and medals will be presented to individual and team winners.

The goal of MESA is to provide globally competitive and individually competent students in mathematics, engineering and science with full participation of under-represented students, including African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and women.

Contact Kaarin Appel at (509) 358-7528 to arrange photo opportunities and interviews with Orchard and/or student participants.