Have you heard of Future City Competition? I hadn’t heard of it, either…before this month. Now I am fascinated and HOOKED!
This past Tuesday, my two youngest kids and I had the opportunity to head down to Washington DC for the day. School was cancelled because of ice, but the metro was running so we took advantage of the day off to do a little learning of a different sort. Although I was compensated for my time to cover the event, all thoughts and opinions and photos are my own.
When I woke up on Tuesday morning and realized that the kids didn’t have school, I was thrilled about the prospect of having them experience Future City Competition Finals with me. My almost-13-year-old daughter is extremely conscious of environmental concerns. She’s our resident activist. I knew that she would get excited about this year’s Future City challenge – Waste Not, Want Not. And my 10-year-old son might be a little younger than the middle school kids who participated in this year’s competition, but I knew that his interest in all things math, science, and engineering would make this an inspiring day for him.
As we left, both kids were imagining what it would be like to form teams of their own for next year. Fun note: the team that won our region was from are cluster’s magnet school, just around the corner from us!
What is Future City Competition?
Future City asks students to answer the question, “How can we make our world a better place?” This year, Future City challenged students to design and build models of “future cities” with innovative solid waste management systems. The systems had to be safe, environmentally sounds, and energy efficient.
Teams from the United States, Egypt and China started gathering, brainstorming, researching, and working on the Future City challenge back in September, and the groups that gathered in DC this week represented the very best designs from all of the students (over 40,000 this year!) that participated.
These students work together in teams of at least 3 fellow middle school students with educators and mentors to guide them. The students are tasked to think like engineers as they identify problems, brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test and build. Then 3 students present their city’s model and concept to be judged for design, description, model, presentation, and project plan.
Here are just a few of the Future City models that we saw:
Why Future City?
The kids that I saw and heard on Tuesday were smart, engaged, dynamic. They were thinkers. They were builders. They were problem solvers. A few years ago, Concord Evaluation Group conducted an independent evaluation of the Future City program. This is what they found:
- 84% of students said that Future City helped them see math and science as important to their future.
- 85% of students said they learned they could create something on their own, without an adult.
- 90% of students said that Future City helped them appreciate all of the engineering that goes into building and running a city.
- 65% of students said that they could see themselves as engineers someday.
- 46% of Future City participants are girls.
- 95% of educators said that Future City helped improve students’ ability to work in teams.
- 92% of mentors said that students’ project management skills were improved from participation.
They learn. They actively work together in a group. And they have fun while doing it.
And I love that my own middle school aged kids got to feel their passion and excitement.
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