By Touré McCoy
NISD communications intern
Engineering cities of tomorrow is all part of a day’s work for Nacogdoches middle school students.
McMichael and Mike Moses middle schools students are getting a feel for the process through their participation in the national Future City competition. The national, project-based, learning experience gives students the opportunity to design and create cities of the future.
Nacogdoches’ sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students are working as teams with an educator and engineer mentor to create their competition cities using SimCity software. Tasks include researching and writing solutions to an engineering program, and building tabletop scaled models with recycled materials.
Sponsored by the National Engineers Week Foundation, the contest takes place September through February. Winners at Regional Competitions in January will present their entries at the national finals in Washington, DC in February.
Students have successfully completed and submitted their first upload for the regional competition. It focused on setting up the city, making sure it had a positive economy and had little to no problems with traffic and transportation.
Among the benefits, this program allows students to experience the job of engineering.
“It is giving them a look into future careers and jobs. It is also great for out-of-the-box thinking,” said Terry Huval, coordinator for the program at McMichael Middle School.
Future City builds students’ skills for the 21st Century workforce through the engineering design process. It calls for them to identify problems, brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test, retest, build, and share results.
Students also further develop social and personal skills throughout the program. The teamwork-based competition gives students insight into what it is like to work with coworkers at a company.
Students aren’t the only ones who have gained knowledge from participating in the project.
“It has been a learning experience. I have had to go back and relearn some things on Sims City. I have also had a great time guiding the students in the right directions,” Huval said.
More than 2,200 teams are planning to compete in 37 Regional Finals. At nationals, the three top teams will be chosen for a chance to win a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama; a $5,000 scholarship from NSPE for their school’s technology program; or a $2,000 scholarship from IEEE-USA for the school’s technology program.
“It has been a learning process, but one that my students have enjoyed,” Huval said.