What does the city of the future look like?
It's not a sci-fi contest, but the concept captured the imagination of dozens of middle school students this past weekend as Rutgers hosted the regional finals of the 'Future City Competition' in New Brunswick.
Teams of students from township schools, including and , competed at the event.
At the regional finals on Saturday, students were challenged to design a city of the future which uses an energy source that doesn't deplete natural resources and has a minimal impact on the environment.
Students were asked to consider the safety, cost, efficiency and appearance of the city in their design plans.
But the youngsters didn't just glue a lot of toilet paper tubes together. They first wrote an essay imagining their ideal environmentally correct city, then drew up their plans in the virtual realm by using a SimCity software program to incorporate their ideas. From that point, they built a physical model which they brought to the contest.
In the construction of the model, they were challenged to use only recycled materials and spent no more than $100 on their model, and they had to come up with a name for their new city.
Students who delve into the Future City program are actively applying core learning components of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), contest officials said.
The Future City contest is a program of the National Engineers Week Foundation, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations. It drew 35,000 students from 1,300 middle schools across the country.
The Rutgers regional event was one of 37 such contests that took place throughout the nation.
The contest had been on hiatus for two years because of a lack of funding and volunteer help. The entire event is run by volunteers, many of whom are committed to the contest and the children, and juggle the effort with their job and family duties.
At the Rutgers event, the Valley Middle School team from Oakland won First Place with their city, named "Acquavite di Capri." They will be headed for the finals in February in Washington, DC to participate in the national competition.
First place team winners won a Flip camera, and their teacher received a $2,000 STEM grant; 2nd place winners got a Kindle Fire, and their teacher a $1,500 STEM grant; the winners of the 3rd place slot got a Kindle DS.
Iselin Middle School had a spectacular day. One team won 5th Place with their Verison City concept. Various teams from Iselin Middle School also won several special awards:
- Humble Knowledge City won 'Most Innovative Power Generation System";
- Terra Nova won 'Most Innovative Use of Infrastructure Systems';
- Luna Nova won 'Best Economy';
- H2O City won 'Most Accessible City'
Scott Lubarsky, the state's Regional Coordinator for the program, said in a statement: “Conserving our country’s natural energy resources and finding new ways to create energy is a hot-button issue right now. This year’s challenge should attract even more attention than usual, as we are asking our students to tackle critical issues that our national leaders are grappling with as well.”
For information or volunteering opportunities at a local Future City Competition, visit the Future City website. For information or volunteering opportunities at the New Jersey Future City competition contact Scott Lubarsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 551-206-5872.