WSU News

Middle schoolers experience the fun of science in competition

Note to editors: To arrange interviews with student participants and faculty at the event, contact Joanna Moznette on site. Student presentations will include visuals and audience interaction.
 
 
Rogers High School students prepare their windmill
device for the wind direction performance task.
SPOKANE, Wash. – The annual Wind Energy Challenge hosted by the Spokane MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) Center has area middle school students excited about science. After perfecting their designs, 170 eighth grade MESA students from six Spokane public schools will test their windmills’ abilities to convert energy into both mechanical and kinetic power.
 
The event will take place 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, March 19, on the Gonzaga University campus in Cataldo Hall.
 
The mechanical task requires that windmill power be used to lift a mass of variable weight up to a certain height. Students are scored on how quickly they can lift the mass to 75 centimeters. The object’s mass and the time taken to lift the object will determine the power achieved (mJ/s).
 
The kinetic task requires that windmill power be used to pull a 200 gram student-designed vehicle 250 centimeters. The vehicle must cross the finish line in a minute or less. The vehicle must remain in contact with the floor throughout the trial from start to finish. The vehicle mass and speed will be used to determine the kinetic energy of the vehicle (J).
 
Awards are given to the top three teams. The first place team will compete in May with other top finishers from around the state at the Washington MESA Day event in Redmond at the Microsoft campus.
 
See a schedule of Monday’s events here.
 
Spokane MESA is supported by Washington State University Spokane and Eastern Washington University. In addition, Gonzaga University supports the middle school competition as host and by providing engineering activities for the students following the event.
 
Students will participate in a number of engineering activities provided by GU’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. Faculty and graduate students will loop the students through a series of labs where they can create white water rapids, test ph levels in different liquids, operate the power in a wind tunnel and learn how a jet engine works from the inside out.
 
About MESA
 
The goal of MESA is to provide globally competitive and individually competent students in mathematics, engineering and science with full participation of underrepresented students, including African Americans, Latinos/as, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and females of all ethnicities.
 
The Spokane MESA center is one of six in Washington. It was founded in 1989 and serves approximately 600 students in grades 7-12. Spokane MESA is supported by both WSU and EWU to maintain a high level of service to the Spokane Public Schools District.
 
 
Contacts:
Joanna Moznette, Spokane MESA Center, 509-358-7966, moznette@wsu.edu
Becki Meehan, WSU Spokane/WSU News, 509-358-7528, rmeehan@wsu.edu