SPOKANE, Wash. — Students from 16 junior high and high schools across Washington state will test their science skills May 28 in engineering events at the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement Competition at Spokane’s Felts Field. The Spokane MESA Center, housed at Washington State University Spokane, will host the event.

“The competition had to be moved from a local gymnasium to a hanger because some gliders are soaring more than 120 feet,” said Keith Orchard, MESA coordinator. “For the past four months, students competing in the balsa wood glider event have been working very hard on their gliders and have created some amazing designs.” Other events include the sail car and the tinker toy tower, which are created and tested on the spot.

For the balsa wood glider competition, students build and design a glider made of balsa wood and other predetermined materials. The gliders are launched from a table using a rubber band sling slot design and are judged on the longest horizontal distance traveled. Participants also must write a technical paper and create a display, making the event very challenging and involved, organizers said.

“This competition is a special opportunity for these young engineers to show off their talents and strive for a chance to become state champions,” Orchard said. Winners of the three events, to be announced at 1 p.m., will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., at the end of June to represent the state of Washington in the national MESA competition.

The goal of MESA is to promote and support students so they can be globally competitive and individually competent in mathematics, engineering and science, with full participation of under-represented students, including African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and women. “This is an excellent opportunity to see future engineers and scientists in action,” Orchard said.

Students from Sacajawea and Garry middle schools will represent Spokane MESA in the state competition. Competitions begin at 8:30 a.m. at Felts Field, 5829 E. Rutter Ave., in “The Brick” hanger on the field’s west end. Basal wood gliders will be soaring throughout the morning. While one group of students is launching airplanes, another group will begin the sail car and tinker toy tower events.

To arrange interviews, call Kaarin Appel at (509) 358-7528. Schedule of events: 8:30-11:30 a.m., event competitions; noon-1 p.m., lunch; and 1-1:30 p.m. awards.