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April 26, 1999

UCSC to host academic Olympiad on Saturday, May 1

By Tim Stephens

Hundreds of junior high and high school students from central California will gather at UCSC on Saturday, May 1, for the final competition of an academic Olympiad known as MESA Day.

This exciting day brings students together to compete for bronze, silver, and gold medals in various mathematics, science, and engineering events. Some of the competitions involve challenging projects such as building containers to protect raw eggs that will be dropped from a hot-air balloon and using balsa wood and glue to construct bridges that will undergo stress testing in a university engineering laboratory. Other competitions include testing soil samples to determine pore space and other properties, gastrointestinal science projects, math contests, essay writing, and public speaking.

Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) is a UC program that fosters student interest in math and science through competitions, speakers, a weeklong summer science camp, special events, and an alliance with the community and industry. MESA serves educationally and economically disadvantaged students and emphasizes participation by students from groups with low rates of eligibility for four-year colleges.

"Students who have participated in MESA account for 90 percent of the historically underrepresented minority engineers graduating in California," said MESA Director Antonio Garcia.

Chancellor Greenwood will welcome the MESA Day participants at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Francisco Hernandez, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, and David Kliger, dean of the Natural Sciences Division, will also take part in the event. Many UCSC faculty, staff, and students will be involved in the day's activities, serving as judges in the competitions, setting up events, and welcoming the MESA students.

MESA is supported by state and private funding and works with students throughout California, from elementary through university levels. For more information about MESA Day, call (831) 460-3034.

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