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Southern California middle school students take over IVC for MESA regional

Imperial Valley Press Staff Writer
IMPERIAL – Gliders, bridges and prosthetic arms were in the air and in use at the Southern California Junior Regional MESA Day competition at Imperial Valley College here Saturday.Hundreds of middle-school students from the southern region of the state traveled to IVC with the hopes of seeing their respective projects place in the top three spots.MESA, or Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement, aims to develop academic and leadership skills, raise educational expectations and instill confidence in the state’s students, according to its website.

A total of five centers were represented at the competition including the University of California Irvine and Riverside, San Diego State University, Chapman University and the Imperial Valley.

The centers serve students in specific counties that lie within their boundaries.

Gino Angiuli, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at McPherson Magnet in Orange County, said he was excited to see how his egg-drop project would stack up to those of the other students.

“We used popcorn, masking tape, foil and a few other things to protect our eggs,” Gino said. “I’m excited to see the other (students’) eggs explode because that’ll give us a better chance of winning.”

Gino and his partner Brandon DeCriscio said they were hoping a majority of their six eggs would survive the 60-foot drop.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll do well,” said Brandon, a 12-year-old McPherson Magnet sixth grader. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Kelly Thornton, the MESA adviser at Del Dios Middle School in Escondido, said she was glad her students had the opportunity to attend the competition.

“I enjoy seeing the students excited about their projects,” she said. “I think (MESA) gives them a lot of confidence and pride.”

In the prosthetic arm category, Holtville Middle School was the lone representative from Imperial Valley.

“I think it adds a little bit of pressure, especially because we’re competing at home,” said Marina Burfield, a 14-year-old eighth-grader.

Marina and her teammates, Eli Romo, Janette Ortega and Jorge Mendoza, attributed their project’s success to their teacher Lupita Perez and countless hours of hard work.

“She pushes us to work really hard,” said Jorge, a 14-year-old eighth-grader. “She also taught us all the biomechanics of the arm.”

In addition to displaying projects, students like Aubrey Adams and Cate Harrington had the opportunity to showcase their public speaking skills on issues such as undersea drilling and nuclear waste.

“I’m excited to present to the judges because I want to win,” Aubrey, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at McPherson Magnet, said with a smile. “I’m really competitive so I love to win.”

Cate, Aubrey’s classmate, was also excited about presenting to judges.

“I just think this is a really cool opportunity,” Cate, a 12-year-old sixth-grader said. “I like speaking and I feel like I’m good at it.”

Jeanette Espino, Imperial Valley MESA program director, said although the event was a large undertaking, the help of the volunteers and Imperial Irrigation District made it possible.

“The IID has been helping us with the egg drop for the last nine years in a row,” Espino said. “Every year and sometimes twice a year they come and donate their time.”

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Published in MESA Activities MESA Day News