Future City CompetitionPosted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 by Jason Davis
In Community, Culture, tagged in Tags: future city, stem
Last month, I helped judge entries at Future City, a science and engineering competition. At this event, small groups of middle-school students design and build cities that represent their vision of the future. Students work as a team with an educator and engineering mentor to plan cities using SimCity™ software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges at the Great Plains Regional Competition.
The last time I judged the competition was 2006. Back then, I was extremely impressed with the level of expertise and attention to detail the students put into their project. That has not changed. Choosing the recipient of Affinis’s “Making Life Easier” award was difficult.
We awarded it to team “Rassool” for a number of reasons. One feature that struck me the most was they had considered emergency flood fighting. They even went into detail of where the levees and sandbags were located or where they would need to be placed.
STEM education is starting at a younger age, and I believe this is contributing to the level of expertise being exhibited by the students. For example, my first grade daughter, Oliviah, is part of a STEM program at her school and is really interested in science and math. (I would be lying if I told you that I was interested in math at first grade…science maybe.) Because of her interest, I brought her along as an assistant judge. She was fascinated by the competition held at the University of Kansas and talked about it for a week or two after the event.
From our perspective, it’s never too early to get the wheels turning. As an engineer, it is exciting for me to see the enthusiasm in my daughter and other young students for science and math. We truly are starting to grow problem solvers at the Kindergarten level.