News Release| CSULA; Cal State L.A.; Los Angeles; CSU; MESA Day, engineering

Media Advisory: Saturday, March 7, 2009, CSULA

 Eggs to drop, bridges to break, fake hearts to beat – and young students to become engineers

 500 middle- and high-school students to compete at Cal State L.A.’s MESA science competition

Note to editors and news directors: On Saturday, March 7, more than 500 science-enthused middle- and high-school students will converge at California State University, Los Angeles to race mousetrap cars, create simulated hearts, break balsawood bridges, drop eggs from rooftops, and demonstrate other custom-made marvels. 

These activities are part of MESA Day at Cal State L.A., a preliminary round of competitions allowing students to showcase their knowledge of mathematical and physical principles. On the surface, it’s about the speed, strength and ingenuity of projects. More deeply, it’s about building bridges to engineering careers that MESA participants might not otherwise have foreseen.


See below for background, activities and participating schools.


WHAT:          MESA Day preliminary science competition, with egg drops, trebuchet launches, mousetrap car races, math contests, glider races and more.


WHEN:          8 – 8:30 a.m.              Welcome

(Eagles Nest Gym second floor)

8:50 – 10:20 a.m.       Team and solo math competitions

(various rooms, King Hall and Engineering Buildings)

10:30 – 11:20 a.m.     

Hands-on activities (trebuchet, egg drop, etc.)


(Engineering Building, track and vicinity)

Two more rounds of the hands-on activities will take place:

11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.

1:15 – 2:10 p.m.

12:15 – 1:10 p.m.       Lunch, with “Concrete Bowling” competition

(Engineering Quad, on north side of gym)

2:20 – 2:50 p.m.         Raffle/Evaluations

(gym, second floor)

2:50 – 4 p.m.              Awards Ceremony

(gym, second floor)


WHERE:        California State University, Los Angeles.

                        campus map: /univ/maps/cslamap.php


WHO:             More than 500 students, more than 30 teachers, and others will be in attendance.


The following middle schools are participating:

                        El Sereno (Los Angeles)

Henry T. Gage (Huntington Park)

Hollenbeck (Los Angeles)

Nightingale (Los Angeles)

                        Chester W. Nimitz (Huntington Park)

Roosevelt (Glendale)

L.A. Academy*


The following high schools are participating:

                        Gabrielino (San Gabriel)

                        Lincoln (Los Angeles)

                        Roosevelt (Los Angeles)

                        South El Monte (South El Monte)

                        John Muir High School (Pasadena)*

                        Eagle Rock High School (Eagle Rock)*

*new participants this year


Key contact: Thelma Federico: director, MESA Schools Program, Cal State L.A.: (323) 343-4565 (office) or (661) 878-2217 (cell).






Cal State L.A. hosts MESA science contests for 500 L.A., SGV students


Los Angeles, CA – With mousetrap cars racing underfoot and eggs dropping from above (in impact-resistant capsules), more than 500 science-enthused middle- and high-school students from 13 schools in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley are converging at California State University, Los Angeles Saturday, March 7.


Relying on their own custom-made designs, the students will also launch payloads from trebuchets, create heart replicas, and stress balsawood bridges to their breaking point.


These and other hands-on activities are part of MESA Day at Cal State L.A., a preliminary round of science and engineering competition that allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of mathematical and physical principles.


MESA – short for Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement – is a state-funded program designed to boost the readiness of students, particularly those from underserved communities, for college and encourage them to pursue science-related fields. The MESA Schools Program works with teachers, parents, industry representatives and others to make its students more competitive when applying to colleges. 


After arriving shortly after 7 a.m. for breakfast and then an orientation in the second floor of the Eagles Nest Gymnasium, the students at 8:50 a.m. will launch into a series of solo and team mathematics competitions ranging from general math to algebra to calculus. The math contests will be held in King Hall. The hands-on activities will run in three successive roughly one-hour sessions, beginning at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.


The trebuchets – catapult-like ancient weapons – will be tested at an outdoor basketball court just west of the Cal State L.A. Engineering and Technology Building; meanwhile, the mousetrap cars will be racing across the gymnasium floor. Students’ balsawood gliders, entered in “The Wright Stuff” competition, will get airborne in another section of the gym.


Following a raffle and evaluations, an awards ceremony will be held from 2:50 to 4 p.m. in the gym.

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Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 205,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.