By Kim Chaney-Bay
As part of our ongoing STEM education outreach efforts, LDA Engineering was pleased to participate as a booth exhibitor at this year’s “Institute for CTE Educators” conference sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Education / Career and Technical Education. The conference, held at the Music City Center in Nashville, was attended by over 1,400 career and technical education (CTE) teachers and directors across Tennessee.
This annual event is designed to engage educators in quality professional development and training. By attending the Institute, CTE teachers and directors experienced a week full of instructional resources, networking opportunities, and professional growth.
Being at the conference was a great opportunity for LDA to spread the word about the Future City Tennessee program, one of two STEM initiatives that we support. It was our first time exhibiting at the conference and we enjoyed meeting the teachers, CTE directors, and other educators who stopped by our booth to pick up brochures, ask questions, and get more information about how to participate in Future City Tennessee.
We were pleased to increase awareness of Future City, which is a transformative, project-based learning experience that asks 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Along the way, the students learn about engineering, develop their writing and public speaking skills, and apply math and science to real world issues. As part of the project process, students submit a project plan; design a virtual city using SimCity software which they present as a slideshow; write an essay describing their city; and create a physical model of their city using recycled materials. Teams compete in the Future City Tennessee competition in January; the winner of that competition then goes on to compete at the national level.
Future City teams are typically school or club-based and are led by an educator who serves as the group’s project director. Teams also utilize volunteer mentors who can provide advice, connections, and technical assistance. For anyone who works in the STEM or city design community – such as engineers, technical professionals, architects, and urban planners – who wants to help students translate academic learning to the real world of engineering, the mentor role is an enriching volunteer opportunity.
In addition to the mentors, another volunteer opportunity exists for professionals in the field to serve as judges for the regional competition. Volunteers can judge virtual city slideshows and/or the city essay (a 1-3 hour commitment that can be done remotely from home or office) or judge the models and presentation on-site. For more information about Future City Tennessee, including how to become a mentor or competition judge, visit www.futurecity.org.
At LDA, we believe that educating future engineers is part of making stronger, happier communities. We look forward to attending Tennessee STEM educator events in the future.