A team of Wheatland students brought home a top five finish at the first virtual Future City Competition.
On Saturday, Jan. 30, two teams from Wheatland Center School participated in a virtual version of the STEMForward’s Wisconsin Regional Future City Competition.
The Future City Competition is a rigorous project using engineering concepts throughout five deliverables.
Students participate as teams, guided by an educator and a volunteer STEM mentor.
Teams spend approximately four months creating cities that could exist at least 100 years in the future. Each city must incorporate a solution to a design challenge that changes each year.
Wheatland teams started in September using the Engineering Design Process and Project Management Cycle to compose an essay, put together a Google Slide presentation on different aspects of their city, make a Project Plan, create a model of their Future City to scale, and create a video presentation in lieu of the in-person competition. Students met virtually with a panel of expert judges from various engineering disciplines for a Q&A session about their city.
This year there were 42 teams that competed in the regional.
After a morning of virtual meetings answering all types of questions from moon resources to innovative technologies and creative engineering to sustain life on the moon, students waited for the results of their scores on all deliverables.
The top five teams met for another round of Q&A and judging with an alternate panel of expert judges for an opportunity to go to Washington, D.C.
“This year was quite a different experience due to COVID and our hybrid scheduling at school. Students had to find creative ways to meet in small groups in order to complete the project. They succeeded in a big way given the circumstances,” reflected educator Kandi Horton, who has led this project for the past five years at Wheatland.
“Students were able to build their skills in communication, writing, science, and social studies as well as learn about future career options in STEM related fields. I am glad students were able to still participate virtually.”
Wheatland Center’s team, LunarGen, was designed by a team of four students that placed fourth overall in this year’s competition.
The team also received two awards. The “Exemplary Model” from the American Society of Civil Engineers and “Most Innovative Technologies” for their rocket design from ITS (Intelligent Transportation Society – WI).
LunarGen member Eva Puidokas explained, “Future City was a lot of hard work, but I was able to show my creativity throughout the project and learned that hard work pays off.”
Wheatland’s second team, Nova Nebula, additionally received a special award for “Best Use of Recycled Materials” from the Society of Women Engineers.
“You have to learn to work as a team in order to be successful because there is so much to learn in Future City. Everyone needs to use their strengths to work together to complete the different tasks,” expressed 8th grader Safyire Guthrie who has participated in Future City for the past three years.
This year’s challenge, Living on the Moon, asked teams to design a futuristic lunar city and provide examples of how the city utilizes two Moon resources to keep its residents safe and healthy.
Team LunarGen created a city made from sections of the rocket that detached to become buildings, extracted oxygen from the moon regolith to pump through the interconnected buildings, used lava tubes as reservoirs and to expand their city underground, and used a superheated Archimedes’ screw to extract and release the frozen water in the moon craters.
Other innovations included AR/VR walls to project scenes from earth, for example, sunshine, ocean views, and other landscapes to help regulate circadian rhythms and help maintain mental health while living on the moon.
LunarGen created solar sphere globes to collect sunlight at any angle to maximize energy collection for use throughout their city.
Nova Nebula created solar mirrors that reflect sunlight into their solar panels or deflect sunlight away from their city to protect against radiation. In addition, the team created a glass panel dome made from moon sand and a lunar greenhouse to grow food for their plant-based diet.