AIKEN, SC (01/18/2018) News release courtesy of Savannah River Site.
Teams of middle school students from across South Carolina and throughout the greater Aiken-Augusta area have been building table top models that hopefully best represent the most innovative and practical city of the future with the goal of winning this year's Regional Future City® Competition, held at the University of South Carolina Aiken's Ruth Patrick Science Education Center..
The student teams, along with an educator and volunteer mentor, research and design a solution to a city-wide challenge that changes each year. This year's challenge is the "The Age-Friendly City."
Long-held assumptions about aging are being radically redefined. Older adults are living longer, staying in the workforce longer and living independently for longer than ever. This population is also growing and altering society's overall demographics. By 2050, older adults will outnumber children under the age of 14.
"Students learn how today's engineers and city planners deal with citywide sustainability issues like waste management, pollution and lack of adequate mass transit systems," said Future City Regional Coordinator and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) employee Kim Mitchell.
"They research cutting edge technologies and develop an imaginative and plausible solution that can exist for generations."
SRNS Education Outreach personnel have been managing the local Future City Regional competition for 14 years, in partnership with the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at the University of South Carolina's Aiken campus.
"Our partnership with USCA has been highly productive," said Mitchell. "We can't thank them enough for the major contributions they make to this important program year after year."
Since returning to school in the fall, 45 student teams have been hard at work on their Future City projects. They join more than 40,000 middle school students from 1,350 schools in 41 U.S. regions around the country, all of whom are engaged in similar regional competitions.
Competing teams are judged by panels of volunteers from the local engineering community on five program deliverables:
Project Plan: Students complete a project plan to help them plan and organize their project;Virtual City Presentation: Teams design a city using SimCity software and present their city's progress via a slideshow;City Description: This 1,500-word essay outlines the team's solution to this year's Age-Friendly City challenge;City Model: With only a $100 budget, teams build a model of their city to scale with at least one-moving part using mostly recycled materials; andComprehensive City Presentation: Teams have seven minutes to impress the judges by showcasing what they've learned and what their city is all about.
Project Plan: Students complete a project plan to help them plan and organize their project;
Virtual City Presentation: Teams design a city using SimCity software and present their city's progress via a slideshow;
City Description: This 1,500-word essay outlines the team's solution to this year's Age-Friendly City challenge;
City Model: With only a $100 budget, teams build a model of their city to scale with at least one-moving part using mostly recycled materials; and
Comprehensive City Presentation: Teams have seven minutes to impress the judges by showcasing what they've learned and what their city is all about.
First-place winners from each regional competition receive a trip to the Future City National Finals in February at Washington, D.C. The top prize is $7,500 for the organization's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program plus a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
Future City has received national attention and acclaim for encouraging middle schoolers nationwide to develop their interest in a STEM-based education. The annual challenge is one of the nation's leading engineering education programs and among the most popular.
"This isn't a weekend project. The learning curve is significant, involving months of planning and hard work," said Mitchell.
"The creativity and ingenuity found within each project is impressive. Each team should be proud of their city."
For more information on the Future City Competition, visit www.futurecity.org
The U.S. Department of Energy Savannah River Operations Office provides a variety of science and literacy outreach programs at SRS by funding and coordinating the efforts of several organizations. The primary goal of these outreach programs is to enhance interest in science, mathematics, engineering and technology and to support improvements in education in the Central Savannah River Area by using the unique resources available at the site.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is a Fluor-led company whose members are Fluor Federal Services, Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell, responsible for the management and operations of the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, including the Savannah River National Laboratory, located near Aiken, South Carolina.