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Future City competition to kick off this weekend
Future City 3
Last year students from Gratton School collaborated together to create their Future City project, Eureka Key. The small school secured the first place award at the Northern California Regional State Finals Future City Competition. This year the local competition has a theme of Waste Not, Want Not. - photo by Journal file photo

Aspiring engineers will get their first shot at making the world a better place through showcasing waste management solutions embedded in their vision of a future city on Saturday during the Stanislaus County Future City Practice Competition.

Devised for students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, Future City is a national competition where teams imagine, design, and build cities of the future under the guidance of teachers and engineer mentors. Throughout the competition, students use SimCity software, research and write solutions to engineering problems, build tabletop scale models using recycled materials, and present their ideas to a panel of judges. The theme for this year is “Waste Not, Want Not.”

Sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education and supported by the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County and Mercer Foods, Saturday’s practice event is designed to help prepare Stanislaus County students for this year’s Northern California Regional State Finals Future City Competition on Jan. 16 at California Maritime Academy in Vallejo. The winner of the Regional State Finals will advance to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. in February.

Last year, students in Rexanne Jensen’s seventh grade class at Gratton School competed in and won the Northern California Regional State Finals Future City Competition after they spent five months working on Eureka Key, a project which they would ultimately decide to enter into the engineering competition for the first time. 

Pulling inspiration from the book, “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” the Gratton seventh graders worked diligently to complete their project and future city model located on San Nicolas Island in the year 2065. Populated by 100,000 people, their hypothetical city included a number of innovative components, including energy storage facilities, hover cars, and a 900-foot tsunami wall.

Additionally, the team answered last year’s theme of “Feeding Future Cities” with a vegetable commodity of spinach and protein commodity of chicken. Both products had operating facilities on the island, which were aimed to flourish within city limits, as well as feed their citizens.

Gratton School’s Future City not only secured first place at the regional competition, but also a number of special awards, including People’s Choice Award, Best Model Award, and Most Innovative Design of Infrastructure Systems Award. When the team traveled to National Finals in February, they also won the title of Best Futuristic City, which highlighted the best use of futuristic engineering concepts into city’s communications, energy, or transportation systems.

Gratton School will once again compete in the Future City Competition this year, as well as schools and clubs from Franklin Middle School, HiMap STEM Academy, Turlock Junior High School and Yolo Middle School.

The Stanislaus County Future City Practice Competition will take place from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Stanislaus County Office of Education, 1100 H. Street in Modesto. The final round of the competition is open to the public and begins at 12 p.m.