A WINNING VISION
HEBRON – Lakewood Middle School seventh grader Nick Novotny may be one step closer to his dream of becoming a hydro engineer. “I definitely know scale now,” he said, after his and classmates’ Future City project won fifth place in a statewide contest.
“That was pretty exciting,” said LMS science teacher Pamela Hundley, who’s been the Future City project advisor for 11 years. She said there were more than 20 students on the team that created this year’s fictional city, called Civitas Magna, Latin for “Great City,” although only three students, including Novotny, presented the project to two state panels of judges during a Columbus Future City regional event that included more than 40 projects from around Ohio. Lakewood is the only Licking County participant.
According to futurecity.org, the Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity 4 Deluxe software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges at regional competitions.
“It’s intimidating (for the presenters), as it would be for any adult,” said Hundley. She said the biggest challenge for her is making sure the presenters give the judges all necessary information and don’t cut the presentation too short. “What we don’t tell (the judges), they don’t know,” said Hundley.
Novotny told the judges that one side of the model represents the entire city with a scale of 1:3,500, while the other side represents a small portion of the city with a scale of 1:450.
“We can have imaginative ideas, backed up with facts,” said seventh grade presenter Blaine Hafen, who said the presenters faced nearly 500 people during the regional competition. He said Civitas Magna, located in Northwest New Zealand, uses nanotechnology to bring “efficiency and accuracy” to everything from medicine to communication and sustainable power generation.
Eighth grade presenter Lucy Morrison said New Zealand was chosen because of its stable political system, clean air, low population density with good demographics, desirable solar and wind conditions, plentiful resources and soils, clean water, and good surroundings for outdoor activities.
Seventh grader Sarah Farson, who was a project designer, but not a presenter, said she learned a lot about “the way things are built” and how they work after participating in Future City.
Hafen found the project challenging. “I thought finding an efficient energy source would be easy,” he said. “It’s really not.”