Meet the 2024 Oregon MESA State Champions

During MESA Day we announced our 2024 State Champions for our Designing for Environmental Conservation Challenge: team G.A.L.Afrom Alder Creek Middle School and team We Are Working On It from Parkrose High School! At the end of June these talented young inventors will be traveling to San Diego, CA to compete in the MESA USA National Engineering and Design Competition (NEDC). During the four-day event, hosted by California MESA, our winners will get to meet MESA students from all over the country, exploring together the theme of Designing for Equity Locally to Affect Sustainability Globally. Learn more about our 2024 State Champions and how their inventions are making a difference in the environmental conservation field in Oregon.

Middle School 2024 State Champions 

Team G.A.L.A from Alder Creek Middle School placed first in the competition with their “Kodak 1.0,” an invention designed to detect motion and bring back lamprey eels to their original habitat. Team members Gelila, Alan, Lucero, and Alondra worked with WallaWalla Tribe and Cayuse Tribe member Gabe, who shared how the population decline of lamprey is affecting the ecosystem and food resources for local wildlife and indigenous communities. G.A.L.A. ‘s invention will gather crucial data about lamprey behavior and uncover the elements needed for lamprey to thrive in Tryon Creek.

We are so proud of their work and can’t wait to see their accomplishments at the NEDC!

High School 2024 State Champions

The We Are Working On It team from Parkrose High School earned first place with their Project RIVERS (Raising Insight Via Environmental Research for Salmon), a controllable sensor  released into rivers to raise awareness and conserve salmon. After months of struggles connecting with local clients, Anne, Tyler, Ryan, and Deagan connected with Joe Krieter, an aquatic ecologist at Lotic Solutions. The team learned that salmon are a keystone species crucial to a balanced ecosystem. Water pollution, sediment, and turbidity affect salmon upstream cycles and is detrimental to their growth. To conserve salmon’s natural habitat and avoid an ecosystem collapse, the Parkrose High School team created a small-scale sensor aimed at sensing the turbidity levels with a retractable arm to ensure as little human interference as possible. 

Anne, Tyler, Ryan, and Deagan shared how through the invention process, the team “adapted to issues and sprouted new management skills that will be utilized in the near future.” Their client, Joe Krieter shared how “it’s outstanding to see talented young folks thinking outside the box.” 

In their final reflection, the team also shared how they “navigated around obstacles of technical difficulties with attending to salmons’ needs, and built a lasting foundation for MESA’s community of thinkers. Designing for living organisms like us without being able to talk to them directly was a challenge we knew we had to overcome for the better of our planet. Our team saw how research will always be our friend and there will be no end; hence our name, We’re Working On It.”

We are so proud of them and know their ingenuity will get them far!