How Middle Schoolers are Creating the Cities of the Future

March 8, 2016

Hundreds of middle school students from around the world came to Washington, DC to participate in a competition where they plan and design cities of the future.  

Future City®, a DiscoverE program, asks the students to imagine, design, and build cities of the future asking the question—how can we make the world a better place?

Since last fall, 40,000 middle school students from 1,300 schools have been engaged in the 2015-16 Future City® Competition. Through the engineering design process, kids are asked to find a solution to a citywide sustainability issue. In this year’s challenge: Waste Not, Want Not, participants were asked to design waste management systems of the future. In creating a solution the kids are then given the opportunity to do the things that engineers do—identify problems; brainstorm ideas; design solutions; test, retest and build; and share their results.

After months of planning, designing, and building a scale model of their city, teams went to regional competitions. 37 middle schools and organizations advanced to finals where they presented their vision to a panel of judges.

According to DiscoverE, Future City® is an engaging way to build students’ 21st century skills. Students participating in the competition:

  • Apply math and science concepts to real-world issues
  • Develop writing, public speaking, problem solving, and time management skills
  • Research and propose solutions to engineering challenges
  • Discover different types of engineering and explore careers options
  • Learn how their communities work and become better citizens
  • Develop strong time management and project management skills
  • Experience synergy

“This was one of the best experiences of my life,” said winning student Isabel Waring. “I learned so much about engineering that I didn’t know and I made so many new friends.  If anyone asks me if they should compete in Future City®, I’d have only one thing to say: ‘Do it!!’ 

Take a look at the winning presentation from the Academy for Science and Foreign Language in Alabama who won the Future City® Finals with their city, Ville Suave. The winning team won a trip to U.S. Space Camp and $7,500 for its school’s STEM program.

Discover E is one of Bechtel’s four signature program partners. Our signature partners are organizations that promote education or use engineering and construction skills to improve the quality of life.



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