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A WHOLE NEW WORLD

A citizen living in Synergy City in the year 2050 in the Vega system on the Planet Endora would travel by subway, benefit from tourist dollars spent at the rotating Llama Dome (something like the CN Tower), eat food grown in a hydroponics lab and send garbage to be deatomized in a fusion power plant.

Lakeshore Middle School's Synergy City won top honors Saturday in the National Engineers Week 2000 Future Cities Competition at the University at Buffalo and will travel to Washington, D.C., Feb. 20 to 26 to compete on the national level.

Students used Sim City 2000 computer mapping software to design their cities on paper, then built a scale model of one section of the city. Every model had to have one working part but no electricity was allowed. To equalize competition between richer and poorer schools, no more than $100 could be spent on materials. Students also had to submit essays about a sister city on Mars, and three student presenters had to think well under fire when quizzed by engineer-judges.

Lakeshore, which also entered a Slicker City in the competition, had a large contingent of students at UB's Student Union Saturday.

Aaron Maynes, a sophomore adviser, said the trickiest part of Synergy City was designing the collapsible suspension bridge. "It had to collapse without breaking but still had to have the same support as a suspension bridge. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears and broken pieces of wood."

The bridge worked on hydraulic principles, using syringes without needles and fish tank tubing. The subway also used aquarium tubing and was powered by turkey basters.

The scrap wood came from Lakeshore's technology classroom; Sean Gemerek "used a crowbar" to dig stones out of the snow for the model.

Second-place school was St. Francis of Assisi in Tonawanda, which won the regional competition the last two years and came in second nationwide last year. Their "Sylvan Cliffs" city was set in the year 4839 and located in Western New York, rather than outer space.

Daniel Didas noted that the houses turn with the rotation of the sun to take full advantage of solar panels. Sylvan Cliffs used mag lev subways and smart roads "that tell the car where to go to prevent traffic jams and accidents," Jessica Dominesey said. Sylvan Cliffs was complete with a mall made from an old jewelry box with silver towers lit with tiny battery-powered lights. "Building the mall was fun," she said. The moving part on their model was a water turbine powered by a bicycle pump.

Materials used to make their nighttime city were mostly recycled: laundry detergent tops, packing foam, clay balls and makeup sponges. A river sparkled with blue plastic wrap over aluminum foil, and fiberoptics with a flashlight produced stars against the black background.

Nativity of Our Lord School in Orchard Park entered three cities and one, Northambria, came in third. Teacher Charlotte Tahk noted that Nativity has as many kids involved in Future Cities competition as it has on its varsity basketball team.

Northambria was set in Antarctica around the year 2400. "We thought it would be cool to have an ice city," said Joseph Simons. (The "ice" was a hunk of battered Plexiglas from a local hockey rink.) Joseph noted that Northambria uses only clean forms of energy, solar and wind, but because Antarctica has no sunlight half the year, "a satellite in space catches the sunlight and reflects it to a receptor plant" for year-round solar power. Lauren Blas pointed out the windmills that pivot to blow pollution away from the city and domed parks that give Northambrians some relief from their icy surroundings. Transportation was an enclosed monorail system and "tred-tech roads" designed to be skid-resistant.

"We had a lot of fun working on it," said Jennifer Cardinal. Their materials included a bike reflector and the little tubes that roses come in.

Lew-Port Middle's Spin City, which won first honorable mention, was unusual because it was shaped as an arc and built on a lazy susan with a cardboard model suspended overhead. Their city looked ahead to the year 5818 and was located midway between moon and Earth and came complete with a skateboard park.

The North Park Middle School team in Lockport designed Piscari Island, a dome built on hydraulic legs "to avoid disastrous weather conditions," Sheena Degnan explained. Piscari, powered by ocean waves and the sun, also had a working waterfall, a fish hatchery, a rain forest to provide medications and a decontamination room to "debug" visitors. Piscari won second honorable mention.

Other schools participating in the competition coordinated by The American Society of Civil Engineers with assistance from other engineering organizations and businesses, were Pembroke Junior Senior High, St. Paul's, Transit Middle, St. Rose of Lima, North Park Academy in Buffalo and West Seneca West.

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