Berkeley’s Future City project, called "Destination Detroit," took first place out of 23 other schools from the Tampa Bay area. The team will now compete against 36 other regional winners from across the country at the Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C. on February 18-22, 2017. The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in grades 6-8 imagine, design and build cities of the future.
“This competition gives students the opportunity to deeply invest in their own learning. They are creating a future for themselves and in the process, are thinking deeply about issues ranging from quality of life to urban infrastructure,” said Kate Kirkman, a Middle Division science teacher at Berkeley and co-advisor for the Future City Club.
“Our students are asked not only to be aware of all of these components but to imagine and describe how 100 years of technological progress will improve our cities,” added Peter Vogel, a Middle Division Design Arts teacher and co-advisor for the Future City Club. “Future City is not merely an engineering challenge but a sociological study. As a result of their experience with Future City, our students can provide knowledgeable and creative solutions to complex problems that most adults never consider or know exist.”
The winning team consisted of 8th grade presenters Colton Ray, Mary Schneider and Suraj Singareddy, as well as 7th grade team members Thalia Fraifer, Keira Hamilton, Kristin Kavilaveettil, Kelly Matera, Robert Muldrow, John Reilly, Ava Seigelbaum, Mona Shetye, Anvi Singh, Sophia Vasiloudes, and 8th grade team member Aashka Chavda.
The Future City competition requires students to work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity™ Deluxe software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges. This year’s theme, “The Power of Public Spaces,” challenged students to design a Future City that included a distributed network of innovative, multiuse public spaces that serve their city’s diverse population.
Berkeley’s project focused on the city of Detroit, where their model included an abundance of safe and open green spaces for people to exercise and play, a maglev (magnetic levitation) transportation system, clean energy produced by nanohydro-electric turbines, and SkyFarms – skyscrapers that provide enough food for the city’s entire population with indoor farmer’s markets on the bottom floor and a park and compost area on the top floor. In the essay portion of the competition, students were asked to realistically explain how their city’s public spaces would function to revitalize the city’s economy, reduce crime, ease traffic congestion, improve pedestrian safety, promote healthy living, improve the environment, and enhance civic engagement.
The students going to the national competition in Washington are all members of the school’s Future City Club that was established for students in grades 6-8 interested in engineering, architecture and municipal planning. Although this will be Berkeley’s third appearance at the national finals, the team feels they have a great chance to bring home the first place prize that includes a trip to Space Camp for the winning team.
Founded in 1960, Berkeley is an independent Episcopal day school for boys and girls in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12. Combining academic excellence with a spirit of social responsibility, Berkeley develops well-rounded individuals seeking to make a positive difference in the world.