Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What Makes 'Crystal Waters' Sparkle? Future City Competition 2016

From mating meal worms to llama-themed installation art, hundreds of students who gathered recently at Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis for the Minnesota Regional Future City Competition sure had some creative ideas for making the cities of the future great.

Teams of middle-school students from all over the state work throughout the fall semester to develop city dioramas and presentations in preparation for the annual competition.

League staff were present once again to judge the "Building Quality Communities" special award. This award is given to the team that best demonstrates how a city government can improve the quality of life for its citizens. This may include the ways that city leaders include others in making decisions or the policies and services that make citizens' daily lives easier and more meaningful.

All-in-all, a total of 15 special awards and three general awards were presented at the event.

Our pick

The "Crystal Waters" team from Valley Middle School
of STEM in Apple Valley took home the "Building Quality
Communities" award at the 2016 Future City
Regional Competition.
It was a difficult choice this year, but the recipient of the Building Quality Communities award is "Crystal Waters," the vision of a student team from Valley Middle School of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District.

Students integrate things like zoning, public safety services,
and green space into their designs.

What made Crystal Waters sparkle? Students emphasized that their city hall was intended to host community meetings and include residents in the transparent process of government. They recognized that the city makes important financial decisions that determine which innovative projects to invest in. Crystal Waters also provides access to basic health information through "digital first aid kit" stations located throughout the city. Nice job, students!

How they do it
Early in the school year, students learn about planning a city and flex their knowledge using Sim City to design their own model city. Then they write an essay describing the systems, amenities, and solutions their design incorporates.

Alternative forms of energy, including wind and solar,
make an appearance in Crystal Waters, too.
Important questions student may ask themselves during this process include:

  • Where is my city located? Space? The ruins of a modern-day metropolis? A volcano-turned island? The sky is (literally) the limit.
  • What kind of transportation do citizens have access to? Solar cars? Monorails? Gondolas in the mountain air?
  • How does my city manage waste? Where do I locate the recycling plant? What can my city reuse?
The League congratulates all 2016 general award and special award winners from the region. We're already looking forward to what we'll learn from students next year!

See recaps of past Future City Regional Finals and the Building Quality Communities Award winners:

Future City 2015 and the Building Quality Communities Award

Cities of the Future as Imagined by Students of Today (2014)


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