Sixth-grade South Heart students won first place for their futuristic city in North Dakota's Future City Competition and will advance to the national competition on February 18, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Future City is a nationwide project-based learning competition in which middle school students design and build innovate future cities.
Teacher Jerica Smith said the project has three parts: create a city using SimCity, research and write a 1,500 word essay about your city and create a physical model of your city. They began the process in October and presented their final project last Saturday in Bismarck.
Student Megan Robb described the scenario they imagined for their city, Quevere.
"We acted like Houston got wiped out by a hurricane, and we replaced Houston," she said. "We wanted to be close to the ocean so we could prove how resilient our system was. There’s fresh water and salt water contamination, oil contamination because of the offshore drilling, and then pesticides and soil contamination because of the farming."
For the competition, Megan and her partners Lee O'Brien and Asia Dutke were tasked with considering threats to their city's water system and creating a means of eliminating those threats.
Smith said Lee was the brain behind the water system for their city.
"We created a very resilient water system that also incorporates the power system into it," Lee said. "It uses steam and heat to create the electricity. It also uses a hydroelectric turbine. When water’s turned to steam, most of the contaminates are taken out, but just in case, it flows through a water treatment plant."
He made the diagram of the system, which takes in ocean water, river water and overflow water.
As part of the competition, the students' project had to include at least one moving part. Their's had two, one of which was a tram.
"Our tram has a battery that has two magnets on each end, and it can climb up a copper coil, which is coiled around it and put on a popsicle stick so it has stability," Lee said. "It crawls up and it also goes down on its own. The electricity, the way that it flows, if you put the magnets the right way, the electricity will push (the tram) ... because copper is magnetic when it has an electrical charge to it."
Megan said that Steffes engineer Seth Obritsch helped them make the moving parts.
"He also taught us that there are more fails than successes in engineering," she said.
Future City requires an engineer or mentor be on each team, and Smith found Obritsch.
"He came and met us at least once a week after school. He’d get off work early and spend the rest of the afternoon, evening with us," she said.
In addition to winning first place, the students also won Best Land Surveying Practices.
One other group from South Heart and at least one group from Richardton-Taylor participated as well.