WSU Spokane to ignite scientific inquiry with MESA

More than 200 students in grades nine and 10 will put their scientific skills and abilities to the test during the annual WSU Spokane Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Competition.

The event is slated for March 28 and 30 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at Spokane Falls Community College (3410 W. Ft. George Wright Drive) in both the Student Union Building and the Math/Science Building 18.

The two-day event will be host to about 60 teams of three to four students who will deliver presentations on various topics centered on scientific inquiry, understanding scientific systems and solving science or engineering problems.

Students prepare for two months with volunteers from Avista and Agilent Technologies who serve as mentors for research, planning and development of team projects. Employees from WSU Spokane, Avista, Agilent Technologies and other companies will serve as judges for their papers and presentations.

All of the 9th graders will focus their efforts on the testing of trebuchets, a medieval catapult device, they have designed and built. Those teams will also turn in a technical paper and make an oral presentation regarding the design, construction and performance of their trebuchet, including distance, accuracy, and power.

The 10th graders will complete a scientific inquiry project on a topic of their choosing. They may select any principle, concept or law from any scientific discipline, interdisciplinary area, or engineering field. The teams will compete in two areas, technical paper, with documentation of their experiments, and oral presentation, which summarizes project details.

Ninth-grade students compete on Tuesday and 10th grade students on Thursday. The schedule for both days begins with preliminary presentations 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. in the Math/Science Building 18. Finalists give their presentations from 11:35 a.m.- 1:10 p.m. followed by recognition and awards from 1:30 p.m.-2 p.m. in the SUB.

School and team winners from these competitions will receive awards and prizes. Winning student teams investigating multi-purpose vehicles will move on to the Washington MESA Day Competition in Seattle on May 31. The national event, held in Irvine, Calif., in June, is in its sixth year, and Spokane teams have placed second and third in the last five years.

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, Hispanics, Native Americans and women.

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