Middle School Affiliated with UC Irvine’s MESA Program Wins National Competition

Roosevelt Middle School team also took top position in four of five competition categories

The Roosevelt Middle School team representing the Compton Unified School District won first place at the seventh annual Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) U.S.A. National Engineering Design Competition in Maryland on June 23, 2007. Roosevelt, which represented California and is affiliated with UC Irvine’s MESA program, also placed first in four out of five competition categories including performance, the technical paper submission, academic display, and oral presentation. 

The MESA U.S.A. competition garnered outstanding middle and senior high school student teams from eight different states, and the main objective was to research, design, build, test, and compete with a trebuchet, or a type of catapult with a sling on the end.  In addition to being judged on their design’s performance and efficiency, the students were asked to write a 10-15 page technical paper, design an academic display board, and give an oral presentation.

The overall performance of the trebuchet was judged on distance, accuracy, and strength, as well as design efficiency - the highest performance category score divided by the device mass.  Participants had to accurately hit two targets, the first 6.25 meters away, and the second at 10 meters away.  The students also had to throw their projectile the longest distance, which the team achieved at approximately 14.75 meters. 

The student team included Jeffery Washington, Alexis Padilla, Erie French, and Raymundo Villasenor.  The MESA team, led by their teacher advisors Oscar Espinoza and Philip Gerlach, is administered by the UC Irvine MESA Schools program, directed by Leyla Riley.

The Roosevelt Middle School team represented California in last year’s competition, where they also took home first place; this is the first time a California middle school has won back to back championships.

The contest was developed to challenge creativity and test command of physics and math principles. The curriculum was mapped to appropriate grade level standards, while also requiring an academic display, a technical paper, and an oral presentation.

MESA Mission Statement:  Since 1970, MESA’s academic enrichment program has supported educationally disadvantaged students so they can excel in math and science studies, and graduate with baccalaureate degrees in math and science fields. To the extent possible by California law, MESA emphasizes participation by students from groups with low eligibility rates for four-year institutions.

MESA is a partnership of programs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.