More than two dozen local students returned home Saturday with medals from a regional science-based competiton.
Pacheco and Los Banos high schools accompanied Los Banos Junior High to the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program, known as MESA, contest at California State University, Fresno. The winners were announced at the end of the day Saturday.
"It's a lot of suspense," Mansi Patel said, recounting the announcement while holding her chest.
Mansi, a 13-year-old seventh-grader, said she used a circular-designed styrofoam delivery system to take first in EggXpress.
In the EggXpress, students design a contraption that will protect as many raw eggs as possible from a six-story drop. It must be small enough to fit through a 14-inch hoop in all directions.
Mansi's partner Vanessa Nava, 12, said science and math are the most attractive part of MESA.
The regional program includes 1,200 children from 21 high schools and middle schools.
Seventh-grader Sophia Castro finished first in Speak Up, which is a speech and presentation competition. The topic was oil drilling. Sophia said it helped to have speaking experience.
"I wasn't as nervous when we had the competition," the 13-year-old said.
For her project she spoke to Fox Oil Drilling Company Chairman Jason Fox, whose company started in Oklahoma and now drills in international waters. They spoke via Skype.
Ask the MESA students at Los Banos Junior High about college and they all have one picked out. The contests are all part of MESA, but the program is really about getting students to think about college. It offers field trips to colleges and science institutes, and students must maintain a 3.3 GPA or better to participate.
Mina Shahbaz, 13, said she wants to diverge from MESA and study literature in college. However, the seventh-grader said she still enjoys it and will be back next year.
"It's better if you want to plan out your future," she said. "Before MESA, I didn't really know how I was going to do with all that college stuff."
Mina was the top-scorer on the hour-long algebra test of 25 questions. She said the key is memorizing formulas.
America Quintero, 12, picked the model-eye project because she wants to be an eye doctor some day. Along with the model, students answer a volley of questions from judges. She may be on the right track, as she and her partner finished first Saturday.
"It just interests me," the seventh-grader said. "On this, I really tried."
Many other Los Banos secondary students won or placed in their respective events.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos