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More than 700 students from 41 Arizona middle schools and high schools participated in the Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program state competition on April 30.

Operated collaboratively by Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, the program promotes youngsters’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

At ASU, MESA activities are coordinated by Jan Snyder, a program manager in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Student Outreach and Retention Program.

Many engineering students and local professional engineers volunteer time to mentoring and serving as judges for the MESA student competitions.

Students are challenged in contests that involve tasks such as designing solar cookers, making water- bottle rocket launchers (intended to carry a raw egg that is to remain unbroken), designing a water-collection system to either store water or put it back into the soil, or carrying out a wind-power project.

The program targets schools with students from groups that are underrepresented in science and engineering fields. Students prepare for regional and state competitions in after-school programs throughout the school year.

“It’s all about helping young students see the link between engineering and science and their worlds,” Snyder says.

At the recent competition, a team from Peoria High School and a MESA club of Peoria students from various middle schools took first-place in the state championships in their respective categories.

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