Students design cities of the future today

How would you design and build a city of the future that incorporates energy conservation and healthy living?

That challenge was laid on the table for students in grades six through eight across southeastern Idaho as part of the annual Future City Competition held in conjunction with National Engineering Week. The theme for this year’s event was “Fuel the Future.”

Twenty-nine middle school teams from throughout the region assembled Saturday (Jan. 21) at Boise State University to share creative and unique visions of how cities of tomorrow might look and operate.

ITD is among the sponsoring organizations that support the regional competition. The department collaborated with the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) to sponsor the Best Future City Project Charter.

The award is for the most comprehensive charter that clearly defines what needs to be accomplished on the project, the project budget and a schedule for completion of the work. Emmett Junior High School’s team was selected winner of the ITD/LHTAC award for its entry “NeWellington” project charter.

Paul Steinman, chief operations officer, was one of the “celebrity” judges for final presentations. Other ITD staff served as judges, mentors or helped run the competition, co-sponsored by BSU’s College of Engineering and the Southern Idaho Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience. Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity™ 4 Deluxe software. They also research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas in front of judges at regional competitions.
This flexible, cross-curricular educational program gives students an opportunity to do the things that engineers do – identify problems; brainstorm ideas; design solutions; test, retest and build; and share their results. This process is called the engineering design process. With this at its center, Future City is an engaging way to build students’ 21st century skills. Students participating in Future City:

  • Apply math and science concepts to real-world issues
  • Develop writing, public speaking, problem solving, and time management skills
  • Research and propose solutions to engineering challenges
  • Discover different types of engineering and explore careers options
  • Learn how their communities work and become better citizens
  • Develop strong teamwork skills

Students research and write an essay (maximum 1,000 words) in which they choose one energy source and design a way to generate electric power for their city that does not deplete natural resources and has limited impact on the environment.

Homedale Middle School’s R.A.I.N. (Recyclable, Alternative, Innovative, Innovative Neighborhood) won the eighth annual regional event. The group also captured special awards for the Best Virtual City and Best Management of Water Resources.
As the regional winner, Homedale qualifies for the national finals Feb. 21 in Washington, D.C.

“We try to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Lynn Olsen of the BSU engineering college. The purpose, she explained, it to encourage young students to consider careers in science and math.

2012 finalists
1. Homedale Middle School, “R.A.I.N”
2. Idaho Distance Education Academy, Boise, “Subarashi-Toshi”
3. Sacred Hearth Catholic School, Boise, “Dajim”
4. Lewis and Clark Middle School, Meridian, “Chanson de L’eau
5. Lake Hazel Middle School, Boise, “STRATA Inc.”

The ITD/LHTAC award for Best Future City Project Charter went to the “NeWellington” Emmett Junior High School team.

Other ITD staff involved with or supporting the competition
Shannon Barnes Erica Bowen Monica Crider Nestor Fernandez
Michelle George Maureen Gresham Victoria Jewell-Guerra Megan Kautz
Robert Koeberlein Greg Laragan Terry McAdams Holly McClure
Shannon Murgoitio Brian Ness Amy Schroeder Sue Sullivan
Loren Thomas Sajonara Tipuric Mike Wees Muhammad Zubery
LHTAC staff involved with ITD in the “Best Future City Project Charter” special award
Dan Coonce Scott Ellsworth Jerry Flatz Karrisa Hardy,
former ITD employee
who also worked with the
Lake Hazel sixth-grade team
Wayne Herbel      

Photos: ITD Chief Operations Officer Paul Steinman and former ITD engineer Karrisa Hardy share the spotlight with students from Lake Hazel Middle School (top). Students present the engineering theories behind their future cities and answered questions from judges (above, photos courtesy of the Idaho Statesman).

Published 1-27-2012