A group of Cinnaminson Middle School students took home two awards from the Future City Competition held this past weekend in Philadelphia.
The competition was held at Archbishop Carroll High School in Philadelphia on Saturday.
It was a day-long event that included 48 schools from the area, but just three from New Jersey.
The group from Cinnaminson Middle School took home awards for Creative Application of Civil Works and Building Technology.
All told, 35 students from the middle school spent hours working on the project starting back in September under the tutelage of Mr. Garwood Bacon.
“Every year, as the gifted and talented teacher in the middle school, I have my 7th and 8th grade classes tackle the problem,” Bacon said. “The competition tries to model a lot of what they’re doing to what engineers have to do in the field.”
Three 8th grade students were chosen to be presenters at the event, with an alternate, and three 7th grade students attended to learn the ropes for next year.
This year’s presenters were Abigail Derr, Lilian Myers, Kiera Pease and Emma DiGiacomo. The 7th graders who attended and aided in the presentation prep were Aidan Ruck, Noah Zoog and Grayson Cooney.
“They did a great job. It’s very competitive,” Bacon said. “It’s nice to have that kind of level of involvement with 7th graders because they will be able to be leaders next year.”
The school’s mentor is Orla Pease, a traffic engineer.
“She’s (Orla) been mentoring for the past seven years. She helped organize a field trip where we went to Dilworth Park in Center City,” Bacon said.
“Her firm worked on the replanning of that public space, so it tied in perfectly with what we were studying. It was very educational for the kids. We got to see how that tied into the city around it and created more of a community there. That’s what the competition wanted the kids to learn, the connection between public space and the community.”
The city the team created is for Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, which has a population of 25 million. The kids estimated that in 100 years it would move to 64 million.
National Engineers Week sponsors the competition, which is national. The idea is to bring awareness to middle school students of the many fields of engineering as something to look forward to in the future as a possible career.
The middle school has been taking part in the competition since 2010 and this is not the first time students have come home with awards.
The first part of the project involved some computer simulation play by the students.
“The students have to play SimCity, a computer game. They have to do it in two phases and measure results,” Bacon explained.
“They need to look at what they did well, what they didn’t do well and how to meet goals. They also have to write a 1,500 word essay and every year the topic changes. This year’s topic was the power of public space in urban areas.”
The kids then had to imagine what their future city would look like. They had to figure out how to remediate a brownfield, which is a portion of a city used for industry. They enlisted the help of science teacher Mrs. Nigro for that area of the project.
“They created a model of their city. It had to show how they incorporated public space,” Bacon said. “They added lighting throughout so people could feel safer at night. They have a transportation system, a geothermal plant, solar panels and more.”
The model of the future city could not cost more than $100 to construct.
“We had a lot of help from the art teacher, Mrs. Muraresku. She helped the kids come up with a design because it had to cost less than $100 to build. We used a lot of recyclable items like water bottle caps and produce containers.”
The day-long event began with the students manning a table with their city for hours on end Saturday. They had to answer questions off the cuff posed by engineers in attendance.
They then had to make their seven-minute presentation in front of a panel of judges.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these kids and all the hard work they put into building the city and making the presentation,” Bacon said. “The entire group did an amazing job.”
The students will make their presentation at least two more times, once for the parents of those in the group after school and once for the Board of Education at their next meeting on February 21.
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