Melva Davis Academy students build roller coasters for UCR competition

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Melva Davis Academy students build roller coasters for UCR competition
Photo credit: Adelanto Elementary School District

VICTORVILLE – Jurassic Park and slasher motel rides are just a couple of the designs Melva David Academy of Excellence students came up with for this year’s MESA Roller Coaster Design Challenge. The University of Riverside’s (UCR) MESA Schools program holds the competition to promote its mission to help underserved and underrepresented students achieve success in STEM studies and careers. 

The competition requires students to design and build a roller coaster model of their own design using any disposable material that transports a glass marble from the beginning of the track to the end. Teams that place in the competition win a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm.

Melva Davis Academy, a middle school in the Adelanto Elementary School District, is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) campus with programs that are career-oriented in specialized classrooms. 

The district tweeted out photos of students and wrote: “Students at Melva Davis Academy of Excellence built roller coasters in MESA club for the University of Riverside competition.”

This year, the challenge will be completed in a hybrid format – students submitted videos of the device and finalists will receive a visit from UCR MESA staff to complete the evaluation. Designs are evaluated on creativity, the number of elements, the length of the roller coaster, its thrill and the required press release that accompanies the design.

Competition designs were due October 14. Winning designs have yet to be announced.

The MESA Schools Program at UCR was established in 1999 – working with “hundreds of educationally disadvantaged students from the Inland Empire and helps them excel in math and science and encourages them to graduate with math-based degrees.”

There are currently 17 Inland Empire schools, including Melva Davis Academy, that participate in the MESA Schools Program. MESA partners with teachers, administrators, school district officials and industry representatives to provide this academic enrichment model. Students are selected to participate through a process that involves teachers at participating schools and locally-based MESA personnel.

The program holds other competitions throughout the year including a coding marathon and a MESA Day Competition.

According to the website, MESA students are more likely to be admitted to a UC – 80% vs 67% for California students overall. They also report that 74% of their student population is from historically underrepresented ethnic groups.

For more information on the MESA program at University of Riverside visit:https://mesa.engr.ucr.edu/

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