Program lets students design city of the future

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SALT LAKE CITY — Imagine if junior high students were able to create their own cities. The Granite School District will implement a program that will let students do just that, in a way.

The program is called "Future City," and it is very popular in other states. Granite School District Gifted and Talented Program Coordinator Sheri Sorensen said the district decided not to participate in academic games, and asked junior high students what kind of activity they wanted to do to replace those games.

"Future City was the overwhelming first choice of the students in the Granite School District. We had over 6,406 kids that said, ‘This is what we would like to do,'" she said.

We had over 6,406 kids that said, 'This is what we would like to do.'

–Sheri Sorensen

Future City is exactly what the name implies. Students will create their own city using Sims software. But, they can't just create any kind of place they want.

"The city has to have at least 50,000 residents. It has to have a commercial area, an industrial area and a residential area," Sorensen explained.

Plus, it has to be set 50 years in the future, and students must tackle the real-world issue of water runoff and pollution.

What is Future City?
The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity™ 4 Deluxe software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges at Regional Competitions.

"As they design their city, they'll have to be thinking about that problem. ‘How do we deal with runoff water and the pollution with that?'" Sorensen said.

All students will have to make their city to scale and present their ideas to a team of judges. Sorensen said the district hopes to create a regional program that would let kids from other districts join in the competition.

"Each junior high team will have a professional engineer mentor," she said.

It's an after school program open to any junior high student who wants to join. Teachers will be trained on how to supervise the program in early February.

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Paul Nelson


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