Berkeley Prep’s Future City Club has 2040 vision!

Coming off their big win as the first place team in the Tampa Bay Region Future City competition, students in Berkeley Preparatory School‘s Future City Club just returned from Washington, D.C., where this young team made a winning impression with the judges at the national finals. Their hard work and first place regional finish already caught our eye, so we invited this inspiring young group to be part of our Imagine 2040 Working Group!

Berkeley Prep's Future City Club students and faculty participating at the 1st Imagine 2040 Working Group Visioning Workshop

Berkeley Prep’s Future City Club students and faculty participating at the 1st Imagine 2040 Working Group Visioning Workshop

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. In January, the team’s “Jugnum Novus Orbis” project took first place out of 20 other schools in the Tampa region. In February, the team competed against 36 other regional winners from across the country and came home with the award for Best Residential Zone in a City. Jun-Min Liu, representing the seven chapters of the Chinese Institute of Engineers – USA that reviewed the entries, said, “Your project has the highest score among all entries and exhibited excellent vision, incorporating innovation, integrated use of resources, and local governance/ collaborative.”

“I’m thrilled, not only that we won the regional competition, but also that we did so well with such young competitors on the national level,” said Kate Baten, a middle division science teacher at Berkeley and director of the Future City Club. She explained that the winning team presenters Bethany Schneider, Nirav Aggarwal and Kelland Timothy are all in the 6th grade, making them some of the youngest competitors in the national competition. The Future City competition requires 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. Berkeley’s project was a three-tiered city housed within a dormant volcano.

Baten explained that the team’s winning project was based on an essay by two Berkeley 7th graders, Faizan Sagheer and Andre Armero, following an assignment for the entire 7th grade class who were asked to envision their idea of a utopian society after reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. The students were asked to realistically explain how the city’s infrastructure, like storm water run-off and power grids, would function. In fact, Berkeley’s Hannah Cesaretti’s essay on storm water runoff issues – this year’s competition theme – was so well articulated that it took the first place prize for Best Essay at the regional competition.

We are looking forward to continue planning 2040 with these very dedicated and talented student visionaries!

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