Berkeley’s Future City Team Advances to Nationals
For the second time in three years, students from Berkeley Preparatory School took the top prize in the Tampa Bay Region Future City competition. The win allows the Berkeley Future City Club to advance to the national finals in February.
Berkeley’s future city called "Springsburg 2168" project took first place out of 20 other schools in the Tampa Region. The all-girl 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 14-18, 2015. 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 is where authentic learning comes to life,” said Kate Baten, a middle division science teacher at Berkeley and director of the Future City Club. The winning team members consist of 7th graders Esha Bhatia, Anuksha Wickramasinghe, Rachel Kline, Charvi Sharma, Jacqueline Hennecke, and eighth grade veteran Bethany Schneider (who was on the winning team two years ago as a 6th grader).
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. Berkeley’s project was the city of Springsburg in the year 2168, where vertical farming and rooftop gardens covered the urban landscape designed around sustainability, alternative energy resources and nanotechnology – all of which advanced the average life expectancy of the population to 115 years of age.
In the essay portion of the competition, students were asked to realistically explain how the city’s infrastructure, like waste disposal, food resources and power grids, would function. Berkeley’s essay on sustainable urban agriculture – this year’s competition theme – was so well articulated that it took the first place prize for Best Essay at the regional competition.
The six 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 second 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.