Ellis Future City Team Wins Regionally, Receives National Recognition
For the eighth time in 14 years of competing, Ellis’ Middle School Future City team placed first at the Pittsburgh Regional Future City Competition. The team was also honored with special awards for Best Transportation System and Most Creative Use of Recyclable Materials. Ellis’ Future City students advanced to the National Finals (held virtually in early February) to compete against fellow aspiring engineers from across the country, and it was announced in late March that the team’s city had won the American Ceramics Society's award for Best Use of Glass in Technology and for Sustainability.
For this year’s Future City competition, schools were challenged to design a city that has converted from a linear to a circular economy. The Ellis team created a project plan, wrote a 1,500-word essay about their city, designed a scale model of key city features, and recorded a 7-minute presentation before meeting with a team of regional judges for a virtual question and answer session. After advancing to the national level, the students participated in additional judging sessions via Zoom, where they could be questioned on any aspect of their city, as well as remote meetings with the engineering societies and companies who serve as competition sponsors. To prepare for these discussions, the Ellis team spent time preparing answers to potential questions and rehearsed answering as a group. They also researched what each national special award was about and took notes about how their city displayed these specific topics.
The Ellis students’ fictional city, which they christened Terre Ami (“Friend of the Earth” in French), sits on the eastern coast of Tasmania, along the River Derwent, and features a number of futuristic innovations, including wind turbines and tidal sails to provide the city with power. The imaginary citizens of Terre Ami use shared ATPs (autonomous transportation pods) to travel around the city instead of personal vehicles. This enables them to eliminate parking lots and garages, increase permeable surfaces, allow for groundwater aquifers to recharge, and reduce the urban heat island effect. Additionally, livestock farming has been eliminated and replaced by cultured meat labs, which grow various types of meat from a few cells from the animal. This cuts down on the heavy land and water use of traditional livestock farming, as well as the high amount of waste created during meat processing. Finally, Terre Ami features durable, non-corrosive glass tidal sails in its power supply, as well as mirrored roofs on some buildings to reflect heat back into the atmosphere—the city aspect that won the students the American Ceramics Society's award.
“It’s an honor to win a special award at Nationals, and we are so excited that our city was chosen,” says Karen Compton, Middle Science Teacher and Future City Advisor. “A huge thanks to Ms. Jackie Dame and our engineer mentors, Mr. Frank Sidari and Mr. John Wojtyna, for the guidance they gave to the team, and to the seventh and eighth grade faculty for being so flexible and accommodating with our team work schedule. I am so proud of the extra effort the students put into this—and it definitely paid off!”