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More than 500 students compete against peers

Modified: Monday, Mar 11th, 2013

Santa Cruz High School students Samantha Gervacio (left) tests her skill at tossing a tennis ball with a prosthetic arm that she and her partner, Morgan Gervacio, built for their entry in the MESA competition Saturday at UC Santa Cruz. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

SANTA CRUZ — The annual Math, Engineering and Science Achievement preliminary competition unfolded at UC Santa Cruz Saturday.

More than 500 educationally disadvantaged middle and high school students from partner schools in Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Salinas, Gonzales, Castroville and Soledad convened at the Jack Baskin School of Engineering to compete against their peers in a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects, that tested their design, presentation, critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork skills.

Students got to show off home-engineered projects such as prosthetic arms designed to accurately toss a ball and move objects, mousetrap cars designed to stop after an exact distance, balsa wood gliders and egg-drop contraptions.

Antonio Hernandez, a ninth-grader from North Monterey County High, earned high marks for his mousetrap car that utilized old LP records as wheels.

“I got the idea to use records from a middle school class I was in,” Antonio said. “At first I thought I was going to lose, especially after my first try. But on the second chance I did really well.”

Indeed, on his second attempt to have his invention stop on a strip of tape after rolling about 8 feet, the rickety jalopy wheeled slowly past the mark, stopped and then backed up and parked nearly on target, triggering a roar of applause.

“I knew it was going to go backwards,” Hernandez said.

For the complete article see the 03-12-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-12-2013 paper.

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