Ellis’ Middle School Future City Team once again took first place at the Pittsburgh Regional Future City Competition. This honor marks the seventh time Ellis has won the regional competition in thirteen years of competing. In addition to taking the top prize, the Ellis team also won special awards for Best Essay and Best City Layout. The team advanced to the National Finals in mid-March, where they competed against teams from across the country in a virtual competition, and are in the running for the National People’s Choice Award. The national awards will be announced at a virtual ceremony on April 7.
The team’s 1,500-word essay, 7-minute presentation, and scale city model showed their solution to this year’s engineering challenge: Living on the Moon. The team had to create a lunar city set 100 years in the future that had already gone through decades of development. They had to build on the history of their city, describe its innovative features, and provide a detailed description of how the city uses two of the Moon’s resources to keep their residents safe and healthy.
Named Jaye Khoob which means "Good Place" in Farsi, Ellis’ fictitious city is located along the Shackleton Crater at the Moon’s South Pole. Jaye Khoob uses Moon resources such as regolith (moon rock) and water ice to support a vibrant economy and to protect citizens from hazards that include solar radiation, meteorites, extreme temperature fluctuations, and lack of atmosphere and air. Their city features mixed-use residential and commercial zones located in underground tunnels. Genetically modified, hydroponically-grown algae and other plants provide a food source as well as an air purification system for residents. Industrial zones on the Moon’s surface use robotic mobile mines to collect and process regolith and water ice (in the crater) for use in buildings, fuel cells, and other necessities. Solar panels along the crater’s edge take advantage of near-constant sunlight to power the city. Jaye Khoob’s residents enjoy socializing in the enclosed Tereshkova Concourse, which overlooks Shackleton Crater and provides a view of the galaxy. Its two layers of regolith glass are coated in transparent aluminum to reflect radiation and contain a gel that stabilizes the temperature inside the Concourse.
“This year's team met the pandemic constraints with determination,” said Karen Compton, Middle School Science Teacher and Future City Advisor. “Despite having team members both virtual and in-person (and one team member on a different continent for a few weeks), they put their heads together and figured out how to adapt in order to divide and conquer the competition requirements. I am so proud of their perseverance and team-first attitude!”
Participation in Future City is just one of many ways Ellis girls learn to grapple with and unravel complex problems. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, the elective offers a space for girls to become skilled at troubleshooting, adapting, and reframing their initial ideas. From the first meeting to the final presentation, Future City is an engaging and immersive way for students to apply the lessons they learn in the classroom to real-world issues.