Three March math, sciences contests engage young scholars

mesa-logoSPOKANE, Wash. – About 200 area students will participate in three science and engineering competitions in March through the Spokane MESA (mathematics engineering science achievement) project.

Teams are given a “starter kit,” above, from which they engineer a prosthetic arm.

Middle school teams will put their prosthetic arm designs to the test 9:30 a.m.-noon Thursday, March 12, at Gonzaga University’s Cataldo Hall. Ninth-graders will do likewise 9 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at Eastern Washington University. Tenth-graders will compete in the annual MESA Science Competition 8 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, at EWU.

MESA’s goal is to develop globally competitive and individually competent students in mathematics, engineering and science – with full participation of underrepresented students.

Founded in 1989, the Spokane MESA center is one of six in the state. It is supported by Washington State University Spokane and EWU to maintain a high level of service to the Spokane Public Schools district.

Engineering prosthetic arms

Displays present key points about teams’ prosthetic arm entries.

The prosthetic arm contests require teams to research, design, build and test low-cost devices. Each team submits a technical paper, oral presentation and academic display, in addition to completing proscribed tasks with the arm they created.

After the prosthetic arm competitions, students will tour campuses and engineering labs at Gonzaga and EWU. Some will have an opportunity to create whitewater rapids, test pH levels of liquids, operate a wind tunnel and learn how a jet engine works.

Delving into sciences

For the 10th-grade science contest, teams investigate a principle, concept or law from a scientific or engineering discipline of their choice. They compete in a technical paper and oral presentation.

Displays accompany oral science presentations.

The schedule will be:
8:30 a.m.-noon, oral presentations and performance competition in Pence Union Building
Noon-12:30 p.m., lunch
12:30-1:15 p.m., finalist competition in JFK auditorium
1:15-1:40 p.m., awards

The top teams will be invited to present their research at the Spokane STEMposium on May 27.

Avista Corp. sponsors food, transportation and supplies for the science competition and rewards the top team with a trip.

Volunteer judges for all three contests are area professionals in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Find more information about Spokane MESA at


Joanna Moznette, Spokane MESA Center director, 509-358-7966,