By Guest Writer: John Boyd, Hanes Magnet School Teacher
March 13,2017 - WS/FCS middle schoolers competed in the Future City Finals in Washington, D.C. and bring home 2 national awards for Best Use of Renewable Energy and Best Residential Zone.
This year’s NC Future City winning middle school team, “Team Aleppo”, is from Hanes Magnet Middle School located in Winston-Salem. Team members are May Cheron, Kiran Kapileshwari, Simran Vadgama, Vidhi Patel, Jake Prince, and Arya Vinod. The team’s teacher is John Boyd and their team mentor is Rajesh Kapileshwari. The team chose Aleppo, Syria knowing that the city had been torn by war. They imagined this city rising from the ashes and being rebuilt as a true model of multicultural tolerance focused around the city’s interconnected and interactive public spaces.
This year’s theme, The Power of Public Space, asked students to design the urban public spaces of tomorrow. Public spaces have the capacity to revitalize a city’s economy by introducing new businesses and bringing in new visitors. They can also help reduce crime, ease traffic congestion, improve pedestrian safety, promote healthy living, improve the environment, and enhance civic engagement.
A recent study by the UN-Habitat’s Global Urban Observatories Unit found that cities that devoted about 50% of their space to public use tended to be more prosperous and have a higher quality of life.
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2016-17, this year’s Future City Competition poses these questions and more as it asks middle school students to address The Power of Public Space and challenges them to design innovative, multiuse public spaces that serve a city’s diverse population.
Since returning to school earlier this fall, 31 student teams across North Carolina were hard at work on their Future City projects. They join more than 40,000 middle school students from 1,350 schools in 37 regions around the country, all of whom are engaged in similar competitions. Students were asked to use the design process to plan their project, design a sustainable city using SimCity software, research their public spaces issue and write a 1500 word essay detailing how their city of the future used public spaces to enhance city life, build a model of their city, and develop a skit to present their city and solutions to judges.
First-place winners from each qualifying regional competition received a trip to the Future City Competition Finals in Washington, D.C., February 18-21, 2017, during Engineers Week. They were joined by teams from Canada, Egypt, and even China!
Future City has an amazing impact on the lives of North Carolina middle school students. After participating on a Future City team, students are more informed about the world we live in today and the issues they will face in the coming years. The program encourages students to examine complex, real-world problems and teaches them how to design, model and communicate their ideas and solutions effectively.