Blowing in the Wind


Following a dry winter, the stormy spring has not been welcomed by many, but the students in K-3 are trying to create even more wind. In that distant part of the campus, while math teachers are having their Thursday meetings, they cannot help but notice the crunching sound of the tool senior Ashley Omstead is using to cut into an aluminum sheet and the breeze coming from the fan of which two students are using to rotate and lift a 1000 kg cylinder off the ground.

Omstead and these students are MESA wind team members who placed at the Pacific MESA Center competition Feb. 26. These three teams will be advancing to the regional competition in Sonoma April 30.

Having one team place third in the state last year, MESA advisor Andrew Walter has high hopes for this year’s teams. He said the teams have a much better chance at moving to nationals than last year’s team.

Learning from the successes and failures of last year, Walter holds meetings with his students to assure perfection or near perfect products. In a display board meeting, he said he wants to make sure that “we’re calm going into (the competition), instead of chaos.”

In preparing for competition, MESA students have been staying after school to make windmill blades that satisfies three conditions: lifting a great amount of mass, pulling a car, and generating an electric charge.

Though the three teams were successful in the last competition, Walter has given the team a new challenge. He has rearranged the team members.

He said that after watching the students perform, he noticed “they weren’t functioning well as a team.”

Walter was not alone in his opinion. Towle said that in the last competition, they “didn’t mesh well together.”

“Half of us are seniors,” she said. “We all wanted our opinions included.”

Another problem with the old team formation, according to Omstead, is that they “all pretty much had the same weaknesses.”

But after the rearrangement, teams say they are functioning better and their communication helps contribute to a better product.

Junior Sean Ferguson, another builder, also prefers the way his new team is working. He said his team figures out their working days “around everyone’s schedule.”

Being in MESA for the first year, sophomore Yael Castillo understands the value of communication. He said, “building a windmill is like building close bonds with your teammates.”

The only freshman on the three teams, Diane Doan, said she has adjusted well. “They don’t make me feel small … They make me feel like I’m a junior, or a senior.”

Though the clock is ticking for the teams to finish their blades, written report, and display boards, Towle said that the three teams are competitive amongst each other — “in a joking way.”

“We try not to help people,” Omstead said, but as she is discussing the outline of a new blade with Ferguson, she admits that she has a problem: “I help them.”