By Bonnie Rizzo – Contributing writer
Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders representing 20 middle schools will compete Saturday for prizes and a chance to participate at the national level during the 2014-15 Future City Competition.
The teams are working on designing a city of the future around the topic “Feeding Future Cities.” The challenge: “Select one vegetable and one protein and design a way to grow enough of each within your future city limits to feed your citizens.”
Teams comprised of a teacher, engineer mentor and middle school student will learn about city design using SimCity simulation software. Teams must submit a SimCity game which will be judged against many challenging aspects, such as city population, health, environment, sustainability and financial stability.
A written city narrative and a research essay are then developed describing the city of the future in detail with supportable futuristic technology based on sound engineering and scientific principles.
The teams then will gather Saturday at Mount St. Mary Academy in Tonawanda for a day filled with excitement as a physical model of the students’ city is presented by each of the school’s teams. All the scoring for all the components will then be tallied and the top five schools will compete for trophies and cash prizes. The winning school will receive free travel and living expenses to go to Washington, D.C. in February to compete on the national level.
Individual team judging will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. After lunch, five finalist teams will present their cities on stage, followed by award presentations.
The competition is made possible by support from local professional engineering organizations and private corporate donations. Volunteer engineers participate in mentoring schools, judging competition submissions and also by presenting cash awards and trophies for excellence in design. Students from the University at Buffalo chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers are also essential on competition day as they move models, time presentations and keep the show running.
Visitors are welcome to watch the competition.