By Riley McMillan
Future City is a program for middle school students that encourages and fosters application of math, science, writing, teamwork skills, and critical thinking, to real-world issues. Each year Future City publishes a universal problem facing cities today, and asks Future City participants to solve it in the best way possible.
Teams are asked to digitally model their city using provided SimCity software, and then to also physically model it using recycled materials and spending no more than $100. There are also City Essay and Project Plan deliverables that the teams are responsible for. These deliverables and keeping on schedule helps students learn responsibility and accountability when it comes to the project and also their teammates.
Future City is an international organization that is primarily based in the states, with each state having a region or several regions within itself. These regions are managed by volunteers, and each year regional competitions take place all over the country for students in that region to compete to qualify for the finals competition that takes place in Washington, D.C. Thanks to LDA Engineering President and CEO, Jason Brooks, this is the first year that Tennessee has participated in the Future City competition, and we are incredibly proud of how many schools stepped forward to make use of the program. We have 17 teams signed up from Alcoa Middle School, Clayton-Bradley Academy, Carpenters Middle School, Dickson Middle School, Heritage Middle School, Horace Maynard Middle School, and Union Grove Middle School. “The Power of Public Space” is the theme provided this year, and the students are designing cities “that include a distributed network of innovative, multiuse public spaces.” According to the UN-Habitat’s Global Urban Observations Unit, cities that devote about 50% of their space to public use tended to be more prosperous and have a higher quality of life. We are excited to see different solutions to this year’s prompt at Tennessee’s regional competition.
The regional competition will be held at the University of Tennessee’s Engineering Building in downtown Knoxville. Each team will present their city models and give a presentation to three judges, and then answer any questions the judges may have of them about their projects. Tables for all the teams will be set up all around the building, giving the students an opportunity to look around the engineering school and its classrooms, where they could potentially be enrolled someday.