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Westonka Middle School Kids Win Future Cities State Title

By winning the competition, the four students and their coaches earned an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC to compete in the Annual Future Cities National Finals during National Engineers Week, Feb. 15-19.

by Lorrie Ham

Grandview Middle School is now home to the Future Cities Championship Trophy after a team of young engineers won the Minnesota State Future Cities Competition Jan. 19 at the University of Minnesota. The GMS team—Jessy Cai, Maddy Bacon, Megan Heins and Brandon Ung—beat out 43 teams from around the state to win the title.

By winning the competition, the four students and their coaches earned an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC to compete in the Annual Future Cities National Finals during National Engineers Week, Feb. 15-19. The team is coached by Jennifer Naslund, with assistance from community engineer mentors Jeff Fish, Barry Robbins, Brian Naslund and Sarah Reinhardt.

“I am so proud of these students, their teacher, and the volunteer mentors," Grandview Middle School Principal Christy Zachow said. "This is an outstanding accomplishment and a tremendous honor for our school and community."

To compete, each team wrote a research essay and a city narrative outlining what their city would look like based on this year’s theme: “Rethink Runoff: Design Clean Solutions to Manage Stormwater Pollution.”

Teams also used SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition software to design and develop infrastructure for their city and then built a physical model to scale using moving parts and green technology.

"Future Cities is a great competition to help increase excitement, enthusiasm and understanding of engineering," Principal Zachow said. "It is a great, hands-on experience and integrates 21st century skills in a variety of ways. The kids love it."

Students presented and defended their designs at the competition before a panel of engineer judges who tested the depth of the teams’ knowledge.

“I was shocked when we won," Jessy Cai said. "It was just too good to be true. I was laughing and crying at the same time.”

Megan Heins enjoyed “learning about teamwork and how to best work together.”

Maddy Bacon liked “building the city model and writing the city narrative.”

Brandon Ung added, “I liked SimCity the best.”

The National Engineers Week Future City Competition is a program developed for sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students. Budding engineers combine the use of math, science and technology as they imagine, design and build cities of the future.

Each year the Future City Competition, hosted by the National Engineers Week Foundation, highlights a current issue and asks middle school students to find innovative solutions.

In addition to winning the overall title, the GMS team also placed first in the special award category “Best Virtual City.”

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