Online-Based Program


Maryland MESA strives to provide students in grades 3–12 with the opportunity to explore STEM through a fun, hands-on program.

Maryland MESA uses project-based challenges to teach participating students the fundamentals of engineering and computer science. Student teams work on projects (called challenges) such as programming a game, designing an amusement-park ride, or solving a problem in their community. The teams can then compete against other teams that have worked on the same challenge. The challenges are designed by APL and the National MESA organization to help children develop computer programming and engineering skills.

Since 1976, Maryland MESA has been providing these experiences through school-based programs. Now your child can participate in Maryland MESA even if MESA is not offered at your child’s school! The Maryland MESA Online Program provides the opportunity for anyone to form their own home- or community-based MESA team. Maryland MESA online teams hold regular meetings to work on the MESA challenge and submit their final products electronically for scoring.

Maryland MESA online teams may participate in up to two challenges per grade level.


In-person training is provided for coaches for Scratch, Alice, Python, and National Engineering Design Competition (NEDC) challenges. Training is typically provided at APL in Laurel, Maryland. The registration fee for training is $25 per attendee.

How to Participate

  1. Identify a volunteer coach and meeting location, then a submit team interest survey. (Volunteers should be a parent or relative of at least one team member.)
  2. Complete the Johns Hopkins online child-safety training.
  3. Recruit children for your team.
  4. Register your team with APL’s STEM Program Management office ($99 per team). Registration opens in September.
  5. Review the Maryland MESA challenge documents.
  6. Purchase competition materials. (See challenge descriptions for estimated material costs.)
  7. Register for training ($25 registration fee per challenge for each coach).
  8. Facilitate kickoff meeting and prepare for the competition(s).
  9. Submit electronic files for scoring in February.
  10. Attend the in-person award ceremony in March.

Participation Timeline

Additional Information

For additional information, please contact the Maryland MESA Program Specialist at