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Students Developing Cities Powered by Alternative Energy Sources

As Fort Wayne officials plan for the future of the city, 29 Indiana teams of seventh and eighth grade students plan their OWN cities of the future in preparation for the Indiana Regional Future City Competition. This competition will be held on Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne campus in the Walb Student Union Ballroom. The public is invited to view the Future City models from 9 to 11 a.m. and to attend the final judging rounds and awards from 1 to 4 p.m. The winning team (three students, teacher, and engineer mentor) from this regional competition receives an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national finals in February.

The teams that will be competing on Jan. 20 are from the following schools: Blackhawk Christian, Blackhawk, Canterbury, Evansville Christian, Fort Wayne Area Home School, Huntington Catholic, Leo, Miami, Pioneer, Precious Blood, Prince Chapman Academy, Riverview, Shawnee, St. Benedict Cathedral, St. John the Baptist Catholic, St. Monica, Tippecanoe Valley, and Zion Lutheran Academy.

Future City, celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2007, challenges seventh and eighth grade students working under the guidance of a teacher and engineer mentor to create cities of tomorrow, first on computer using SimCity 3000 software and then in large tabletop models using recycled materials. Students present their models and defend their designs before a panel of judges at the regional competition. The teams are also judged on their writing and research skills. They write a city abstract and an essay on using engineering to solve an important social need: how to use fuel cell systems to power a modern metropolis.

Future City national director Carol Rieg says the hands-on applications of math and science often spark newfound interest among students, just as it opens their minds to consider engineering solutions to some of the world's most intractable problems. "The competition sets enough parameters to make the lessons in math and science real, but within those parameters they are only limited by their imaginations."

And for many of the students it's imagining a better world, not just in the future, but here and now.

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