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Middle school pupils design sustainable cities of future

Posted: January 24, 2012 - 5:40pm  |  Updated: February 1, 2012 - 10:41am
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Paul Knox Middle School pupils Benjamin Formby (from left), 12, Ellie Fuller, 11, and Jacob Dunham, 12, talk about their model of a future city, called Sea Glass City, at the South Carolina Future City competition.     MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Paul Knox Middle School pupils Benjamin Formby (from left), 12, Ellie Fuller, 11, and Jacob Dunham, 12, talk about their model of a future city, called Sea Glass City, at the South Carolina Future City competition.

 

Cities with streets paved with gold, rivers lined with sea glass, silver-covered buildings and alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity, nuclear, wind, thermal and solar power were some of the things found in Future City models created by pupils from North Augusta middle schools.

Six teams from North Augusta – one from Merri-wether Middle, one from North Augusta Middle and four from Paul Knox Middle – were among 32 teams in the South Carolina Regional Future City Competition held Saturday at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

This year’s theme was “Fuel Your Future,” which challenged middle school pupils to look for alternative energy solutions. The competition is part of National Engineers Week.

“We have challenged the students to come up with solutions to issues that are very real to us right now, to our nation and our world,” said South Carolina Regional Future City coordinator Kim Mitchell, who is also with Education Outreach Programs at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. “It’s not just a competition. It’s also an educational program.”

The teams had to do research and write an essay, create a virtual model of their city using SimCity 4 software and build a physical model with guidance from an engineer mentor.

Each team could not use more than $100 to create its physical model and was encouraged to use recycled materials.

La Fiebre Verde, a city created by a team from Paul Knox Middle, was created almost entirely of recycled materials, including used popsicle sticks, an old laundry detergent box, pieces from a Monopoly game and a cut 2-liter bottle.

Merriwether Middle’s Emerald City offered wind power for the city’s farm and electrical power from underground for the rest of the city.

Creating the model presented challenges, but it taught the pupils about not jumping into things or making assumptions, they said.

“You have to do a lot of planning,” said Ashley Milton, 13. “You can’t just put things on the model and hope it works or makes sense.”

The importance of teamwork was something many of the teams learned through the competition.

“We all have ideas, but we had to come up with one model,” said 13-year-old Sara Tyrrell, a member of North Augusta Middle’s team. “There was a lot of compromise, and you learned how to work together.”

The team’s city model was called Nova Vita, which is Latin for new life. The pupils designed the city to be on an island in the Pacific Ocean about the size of New York City. The city, which placed third in the competition, would rely on fuel cells, geothermal, wind, hydro and wave energy as alternate fuel sources.

Teams also had to think of “what-if” scenarios to help design and create a city that would be well-prepared.

For example, one of the Paul Knox Middle teams’ cities, South Wood Island, featured a very large water tower.

“The water tower is very large because if there is a drought, we will have enough water for the city to last three years,” said Kurtis Poole, 13.

The city was created to rely on hydroelectricity and nuclear power, which used uranium to heat the water. The city had a system to recycle the water so there would be little impact on water sources.

Other Paul Knox Middle teams were Hydro City and Sea Glass City.

WINNERS

FIRST PLACE:

“Neoterica”, Kennedy Middle School, Aiken

Members: Makenzie Cude, Lacie Leach and Tyler Ready

The first place winners will go on to compete in the national Future City competition Feb. 17-22 in Crystal City, Va.

 

SECOND PLACE:

“Hydro-Utopia”, W.A. Perry Middle School, Columbia

Members: Michael Bannister, Jarquis Pope and Justin Simmons

 

THIRD PLACE:

“Nova Vita”, North Augusta Middle School

Members: Jordan Houston, Catherine Powell and Sara Tyrrell

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