Middle school students take part in Future City Competition in Pittsburgh
By Debra Erdley
Published: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
The future arrived in Oakland with a roar on Saturday morning as dozens of middle school students gathered at the Carnegie Music Hall for the annual Future City Competition.
This year's challenge to make tomorrow's world a better place could have come straight from Pittsburgh City Hall: “Tomorrow's Transit: Design a way to move people in and around your city.”
The children who represented 42 schools and organizations were from all points of the city and outlying areas from Wheeling, W.Va., to Kane in McKean County for the competition sponsored by DiscoverE, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major corporations.
Students Zoya Domashnev, Kataria Mico and Warren Sipe from St. Bede School in Point Breeze took top honors. They go on to Washington to compete in the national Future City Competition, Feb. 15-18.
But there were no losers among the teams that displayed 50-by-25-inch models of cities and systems they began designing last fall.
“They learn a lot about science, engineering and math, but they learn more about themselves and what they're capable of,” said middle school teacher John Jarocki as his team from Verna Montessori Middle School in Mt. Pleasant showed off its model.
Across the hall, a team from Wheeling Middle School designed Aqua del Vita, a city where transit systems were fueled by solar power and dark matter from a super collider.
Jacob Lantzman, 13, an eighth-grader at Fort Couch Middle School, said his team settled on redesigning Brussels, which it learned was the most congested city in Europe.
The team redesigned the city in grids, powered it with electricity generated from solar panels on the moon that made its way to Earth via satellite transfer stations and set up a transportation system based on electromagnetic autonomous vehicles and a “vac train” that moved through the city in pneumatic tubes.
Nia Sankofa, 13, a student at Obama Middle School in East Liberty, and her coach, Ashanti Jones, explained how their team, first-time participants, designed their model city, “Ascension,” complete with green roofs, transportation tubes and a pollution cleanup system.
The students from Kane Middle School in far northern Pennsylvania chose to place their model city “Greville” on an island off the east coast of Florida, where solar power could fuel much of the design.
As the students explained their plans, Brandon Dawson and Mike Sylvester of AllTech Staffing, a Monroeville-based engineering and technical recruitment firm, walked through the music hall, clipboards in hand, grading the displays for compliance to rules.
“We work with engineers all the time and there is no limit to what they can do. But you come here and you get some kids who can tell us a few things. It's amazing,” Sylvester said.
“These kids have passion,” Dawson said.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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