Specification Clarification Questions

MESA does its best to ensure our specifications are as clear as possible. However, there are times during the Engineering Design Process rules need to be clarified. In those instances student participants may submit Specification Clarification Questions. Specification Clarification questions must be emailed to azmesa@email.arizona.edu or submitted via our webform at MESA Day Question. Questions should be discussed with MESA teachers prior to submission. Submitted questions should include your name, your school, and the MESA teacher should be copied on the email.

Question: Can you switch out wheels in between races for a particular race?

  • Answer: Yes this is allowable.

Question; Can rubber bands be used in a pulley system to power the car as long as they are not being used to add extra power to the car?

  • Answer: Yes, rubber bands can be used as long as they do not add power. Teams will need to be prepared to explain to the judges how they are being used and show that they do not add power. The design notebook is a good place to keep data and information for this purpose.


Question: If students are using found items, construction scraps, items brought from home or donated do they need to give these items a dollar amount?

  • Answer: In most cases they do not need a dollar amount. Per Design Parameter 10a “Commercially available materials or kits (i.e. legos, k’nex, Arduino) must have a price listed in the budget.” However, Per Design Parameter 10b ” Salvaged items do not need to have a price but should be listed in the budget. Salvaged items are defined as items that were designed as single-use (straws, soda bottles, paper towel tubes) or would otherwise be thrown away (scrap lumber, pvc, metal)

Question: Is a notebook part of the judging for that competition?

  • Answer: A notebook is not part of this competition but there is a poster required. The rubric for the poster will be available in the Spring.

Question: Can you make a homemade parachute for the water rockets?

  • Answer: Yes, homemade parachutes are allowed but commercially available parachutes are prohibited.

Question: Can you use poster board as the paper for the paper boat challenge?

  • Answer: Yes, poster board can be used. The range of items considered paper is very broad and was chosen for this specific reason. Students should experiment with different papers and can mix papers in their designs. Any information collected on paper types and data from experimentation on and with paper types should be included in the Engineering Design Notebooks.

Question: Can a water boat have more than one deck as long as the paper is physically connected to the structure?  Can we instruct the judge to maneuver this deck to place more bottles?

  • Answer: Yes, however judges must keep to the timing of placing the bottle so the judge’s will use their discretion to determine if the deck can be moved within the timing of the event. If they determine they cannot then they have the right to refuse. Also, judges are not responsible for any issues that may arise from moving the deck that may cause the boat to prematurely capsize. If this occurs boats will not be retested and a score will determined based on how many bottles were held prior to the issue. Any requests must be handled during spec check and not during testing.

Question: If an item is printed with filament can you add other materials like magnets to the 3D printed tool?

  • Answer: Yes other elements can be included, however, the printed piece must be the primary element of the design and be the focal point for demonstrating the math/science concept.

Question: Will the scavenger hunt already be made up into units (like meters blocks) or will the students have to measure these in order to create the code?

  • Answer: Students will have to take their own measurements.

Question: Can a student use anything on their body to measure distance as long as they are able to wear it?

  • Answer: Students will be allowed to use measurement tools to determine distances. The exception being smartphones, tablets, or computers that take measurements for them.


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