Maryland MESA strives to provide students in grades 3–12 with the opportunity to explore STEM through a fun, hands-on program. This STEM initiative:
- prepares students to enroll in and graduate from a two- or four-year college or university with a degree in a STEM field;
- targets students who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields—specifically, minority and female students; and
- helps students develop leadership skills, improve their academic performance, work as a team, and compete effectively.
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.
Winning teams at each Regional Competition are invited to compete at MESA Day, an annual competition held in each MESA state, which provides students with the opportunity to design and build projects, win medals, learn by doing, and interact with each other as well as STEM professionals.