Fleeta science students place at Future City contest

Published 12:35 am Friday, January 20, 2017

Fleeta school sixth and seventh graders have spent the last four months imagining, researching, designing and building a city of the future.

Their hard work culminated recently when they traveled to Huntsville to take part in the regional competition.

Future City starts with one question – how can we make the world a better place?

Then sixth, seventh and eighth graders use their imagination, conduct research, design and build the cities to showcase their solution to a sustainability issue within their city.

To showcase their work, teams are required to present their solutions through a virtual city design; a city essay; a scale model; a project plan; and a presentation to judges.

The program is coined a flexible, cross-curricular educational program that gives students an opportunity to do the things that engineers do – identify problems, brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test, retest and build, and share their results.

Fleeta teacher Valerie Brownlee said she learned of the competition from a teaching friend of hers and thought it was a good fit for her students.

The students had to figure out how public spaces can improve for a city.

Through their research and planning, they decided to take automobiles, with the exception of emergency vehicles, out of their city.

They named their city S.T.A.R.-topia.

“There’s a lot of pollution,” Maggie Nixon said.

Student Kasey Dyess said that taking out the cars and roads gave more public space. It also helps increase the social factor. They brainstormed many options and solutions before coming to that consensus, they said.

Dyess said they built their scale model from a lot of recycled lab items.

Getting the scale right, took the students a long time.

“We struggled with the scale,” Brownlee said.

The students wired the transportation system themselves. Lucas Jenkins said that at the competition, they were judged by rocket scientists, engineers and electricians.

Elizabeth Baxley said she learned how much work was put into the engineering process.

Baxley said they also learned a lot about research.

“It’s hard to find accurate websites,” she said.

They also learned teamwork skills and project management skills.

The group agreed that they had already been working together since the school is so small.

The group placed in the top 5 in the competition in their first year.

The students were able to participate thanks to a Bright Idea grant from Covington Electric Cooperative.

Brownlee said she wishes that more schools around would participate.

“The closest school to us was in Ozark,” she said.