Colorado High School Students To Launch Boats, Foot Bags And Careers At MESA Fall Fling

November 1, 2006

Note to Editors: Media are welcome to attend the trebuchet challenge, the boat building and racing event, and other activities. Please contact Gloria Nelson or Carol Rowe to obtain a detailed schedule.

More than 260 high school students from 27 schools around Colorado will test their skills at building boats and medieval siege machines, called trebuchets, during the Colorado Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Fall Fling at the University of Colorado at Boulder Nov. 2 and 3.

The event, co-sponsored by SpectraLink and the Multicultural Engineering Program at CU-Boulder, is an annual tradition for high school students participating in the Colorado MESA program. This year's event will feature a variety of hands-on activities in which students can apply their knowledge of math and science.

The Fall Fling is the highlight of the year for many Colorado MESA students and is being held at CU-Boulder for the sixth consecutive year.

On Thursday evening from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., students will work in groups, with assistance from professional engineers and CU students, to build boats out of milk cartons, wood furring strips and duct tape. They then will try to navigate their boats across the CU Student Recreation Center swimming pool in a race against other teams.

In another hands-on engineering activity Friday, students will compete in a variety of contests designed to test the power and performance of trebuchets they designed and built in their schools. Originally used by medieval armies to bombard castle walls, these catapult-like devices use the force of gravity to hurl Hacky Sacks, or foot bags, at strategically placed targets on the gymnasium floor.

The trebuchet competition will be held at the CU Student Recreation Center from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Winners of this statewide event will go on to compete in the MESA USA National Competition to be held in Maryland in June 2007.

In addition to the hands-on activities and competitions, the Fall Fling allows high school students to meet and talk with university students about college life, tour the campus and its engineering and science labs, and obtain information about college admissions and financial aid.

Colorado MESA is part of a national network of MESA organizations that seek to identify academic potential in minority and at-risk students as early as pre-kindergarten, and continue to work with them through high school, helping them meet college entry requirements.

Formed in 1980 with a student enrollment of 30, Colorado MESA now has more than 3,000 participating students from 140 schools throughout the state.