Future City National Engineers Week Competition is for students in Grades 6-8, coached by a teacher and an engineer mentor.
A team can be as small as three students, a teacher and an engineer or as large as a whole class with one or more teachers and engineers to guide them. Most teams are made up of five to ten students, sometimes working in small groups or working on aspects of the project at home; other times they work as a large group.
Future City can be done over a semester as a whole class project or (more commonly) it can be done as an extracurricular activity for a team of interested students.
Future City can be a great project for Homeschool families, integrating many aspects of Science, Math, Engineering, and Language Arts with a chance to work closely with other Homeschool students.
"Each year 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students embark on a transformative experience as they ask and answer the question: How can we make the world a better place? From this simple starting point, student teams spend four months imagining, designing, and building cities of the future." Future City National Engineers Week Competition website
Students design a city using Simcity 4, develop an idea for a city of the future and then build a scale model of a section of that future city from recycled materials. Along the way they research and write about an engineering challenge and then prepare to present their city and their solution to the challenge to a panel of engineer judges.
All this comes together at the Regional Competition when the excitement begins and all the teams display their models and make their presentations to the judges, as well as look at each others' models and exchange information. There's lunch and speakers and a great spirit of competition...
There are trophies for special aspects of the project (Bridge Design Award, Most Unique Engineering Design Award, Most Unique Model Award, Pollution Prevention Award, and many more) sponsored and judged by engineering societies locally. There's a Students' Choice Award as well.
The top five teams (based on all aspects of the project) are Finalists who present their city to an audience of students and adults, competing for the top prizes and honorable mention awards. The WNY Region's first place team wins an all-expenses paid trip to the National Finals in Washington DC in February... a fantastic experience!
Click here for a Buffalo News article about Future City WNY 2011
As many teachers and former Future City team members will attest, Future City is often the start of an interest in STEM fields and it's great preparation for high school, even for college and beyond, no matter what the major or future plans.
Future City blends hands-on model building with oral presentation; writing, computer and research skills; career awareness; city planning; environmental consciousness and more. Team members learn about complex issues, appreciating the role of science, math, and engineering in solving them. And they have fun along the way!
Above all, Future City students learn about problem solving, collaboration and teamwork. In the words of one Future City Teacher:
"If I were to highlight one skill that our students learn from this program, it would be an ability to work with others..."
Click here to see what students from across the country say...
Click for a great talk at 2012 TEDx Buffalo by former Future City WNY Coordinator Karen Armstrong
Click for link to Future City National website (with information and a wide range of resources)
Click for link to official WNY Region website (for basic information and regional calendar)