Wheatland Center School teacher Kandi Horton (left) and students Erin Gasser, Emily Lein and Kort Visocnik showcase their trophy and Rookie of the Year display at the Future City Competition held at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in January (Submitted/The Report).

One team receives Rookie of the Year honor

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

Inspired by sustainable and renewable resources, Wheatland Center School students spent four months creating and developing cities for a Jan. 21 Future City Competition held at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, where one of two presenting teams received “Rookie of the Year” honors.

Among the 72 total teams who entered the regional Future City Competition, 13 were in their Rookie Year, according to Wheatland middle school PATHS teacher Kandi Horton.

PATHS, in its first year at the school, is a personalized learning academy for 7th- and 8th-grade students tailored to the strengths of each student that emphasizes an integrated approach to science, language arts and social studies.

The Hawkaloon City team, consisting of Erin Gasser, Emily Lein, Kort Visocnik, Hailey Luedtke and Alyssa Cox received the Rookie of the Year honor.

Additionally, the other team known as Scenic City, was produced by Isabelle Brenton, Valerie Zuehls, Vivian Pisani, Mackenzie Joosten and Landon Jerde.

“They did an excellent job and represented Wheatland well,” Horton told Wheatland School Board members at a Feb. 22 regular meeting.

Through Horton’s guidance, the teams started collaborating in late September, following a presentation by local resident Vince Mosca.

“He came to our class to present his knowledge of public spaces, the environment, and local projects he is involved with including the Hackmatack Urban Wildlife Refuge Project which spans multiple states and connects public spaces between spaces,” said Horton. “He stressed the importance of these connected green spaces with respect to wildlife as well as people’s use of space for healthy living.”

A basic question

Wheatland students (from left) MacKenzie Joosten, Vivian Pisani and Isabelle Brenton await judging at the Future City Competition.

With an established foundation, the students were posed with a simple question, according to the Future City website.

“How can we make the world a better place?”

Using their imagination, students researched, designed and built cities promoting solutions to the concerns related to sustainable cities, the website states.

To start, students used SimCity to create a virtual design of their city, followed by a 1,500-word essay, creation of a scale model and project plan to present to a panel of judges.

In the Hawkaloon City project, students converted an abandoned mall into a community center, which included a rooftop pool nestled beneath a dome for year-round use, Horton said.

“This building utilized rain water harvesting to supply the building and pool with water from a sustainable and renewable,” she said.

In addition to rainwater, the team harvested snow, noting the city sits in the mountain ranges.

Furthermore, the city used wind and solar power to deliver electricity in residential areas, which were designed to have a public space for walking, biking and hiking.

To cut air pollution, students developed a monorail system and electromagnetic roadways that use electric cars.

The Scenic City team, however, converted a brownfield polluted from an old industrial site in their city, Horton said.

The challenge, according to Horton, was to reduce ground pollution using a soil remediation technique known as Thermal Desorption, which uses heat to extract pollutants and dissolve them.

To make the area suitable for the public, they used another technique to absorb pollutant remnants and repurposed buildings into shops, cafes, stores and apartments.

“They incorporated parks, schools, and an observatory into the area as well as a lighted trail system for outdoor activity – part of which was a converted train track left from the industrial park,” Horton said.

They also used a wireless energy system with solar panels equipped with copper coils to supply the city’s electricity.

At the Feb. 22 meeting, board member Mary Ochoa-Petersen commended Horton for her dedication to the project.

“I’d like to recognize Kandi for giving this program all of her time,” Ochoa-Petersen said.


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