Conjure out of thin air a cutting-edge transportation system for a city: That’s the challenge for hundreds of middle school students participating in the 2014 Future City Great Plains Regional Competition, set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Kansas Union at the University of Kansas.
The event – which will draw more than 200 sixth- through eighth-graders from Kansas, Missouri and Colorado – is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and hosted by the KU School of Engineering.
“This program is really designed to teach students about engineering, teamwork and how to problem-solve,” said Jeff Sims, program management engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation and Future City Great Plains Regional Coordinator. “The competition provides students with a hands-on technique to apply what they’ve learned in math, science and research.”
Sixty-eight teams from 35 schools are registered for the competition.
This year’s theme is Tomorrow’s Transit and calls for students to use SimCity software to design a way to move people in and around a city of their imagination. Over the fall semester, teams have been busy designing a virtual city, writing a narrative of their city and then building a physical model of that city using recycled materials. At the regional competition, teams display their models and make short oral presentations before a panel of judges. They are judged in five areas: design, research essay, city narrative, oral presentation and city model.
The public is invited to view the models throughout the day as well as watch presentations from the top finalist in the afternoon.
The first-place team at the Great Plains Regional Competition will advance to national finals Feb. 19-24 in Washington, D.C. In addition, several awards honor teams for excellence in a specific area of design or for a team’s performance.
Nationally, more than 35,000 students take part in the Future City Competition at one of 37 regional competitions. The winner of the national competition receives a trip to U.S. Space Camp and an award of $7,500 for their school’s STEM program.
Great Plains Regional Competition organizers are seeking additional volunteers to ensure the competition runs smoothly. Helpers are needed any part of the day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers will assist with a variety of tasks, including distributing T-shirts, checking in teams, measuring models, timing presentations and monitoring doors during presentations. KU students and others able to assist during any part of the day are encouraged to contact Engineering Outreach Coordinator Jacquelyn Pedigo at email@example.com.
Participating Kansas schools are:
Belleville: Republic County USD 109
Cherokee: Southeast Junior High School
Concordia: Concordia Junior High School
Courtland: Pike Valley Junior High School
Eudora: USD #491
Fort Leavenworth: Patton Junior High School
Garnett: Anderson County Junior High School
Hutchinson: USD 308, Prosperity Elementary School
Lansing: Lansing Middle School
Lawrence: Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, South Middle School, Southwest Middle School, St. John Catholic School, West Middle School
Lenexa: Holy Trinity Catholic School
Manhattan: Frank V. Bergman Elementary School
Olathe: Chisholm Trail Middle School, Indian Trail Middle School, Prairie Trail Middle School
Overland Park: Harmony Middle School, Indian Woods Middle School, Westridge Middle School
Pretty Prairie: Pretty Prairie Middle School
Sterling: Sterling Junior High
Topeka: St. Matthew Catholic School, Washburn Rural Middle School
Belton: Yeokum Middle School
Kansas City: Raytown Middle School
Raytown: Raytown Central Middle School, Raytown South Middle School
Stover: Morgan County R1 School
Sturgeon: Sturgeon RV.