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GMIS Students Plan for the Future in Innovative Future City Competition

A group of students present a 3d model of a floating city design to two judges.
  • gmis
Ashley Shannon

Mrs. Eastman’s sixth-grade gifted class has been thinking about the future and (literally) designing the world they’d like to live in! This past weekend, the students competed in the regional Future City Competition, a journey that has been months in the making.

“The Future City program is ‘a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade imagine, design, and build cities 100 years in the future,” said Eastman.

“Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges at Regional Competitions in January.’

“My students have been working since the start of the school year on this project. I was fortunate enough to be connected with Ms. Anderson Deutschman from McCarthy Engineering in Wyomissing who mentored us through this entire process. She came to the classroom multiple times to share information about city planning, provide feedback on the students' ideas, and listen to their practice presentation. 

“The students created a new city called Otaranda, or ‘floating land’, that floats in the ocean to accommodate rising sea levels from climate change. Throughout this process, they learned about city planning, infrastructure, energy sources, housing, agriculture, utilities, economy, zoning, and much more. Additionally, they worked through the steps of project management and made tremendous improvements in cooperation and teamwork. In September, they disagreed over every idea; by the end, they shared and supported each other.

On Saturday, January 21, 2023, the team traveled to Harrisburg to compete in the regional competition alongside 14 other Pennsylvania teams. The group was up against some stiff competition, including the National winners from the previous year’s competition, but they gave it their all to share their collective vision for Otaranda.

“They presented the model informally to judges and then did a formal presentation telling all about their city in a creative way,” said Eastman, “Additionally, they had to write a 1500-word essay describing the city, manage a budget for supplies, and create a project plan.”

While the team didn’t take home the prize at regionals, they gained valuable experiences in both academics and social-emotional development. When asked about their main takeaway from this experience, many students cited the development of interpersonal skills, such as collaboration, teamwork, focus, patience, and discipline.

Students are also using what they learned at the competition to prepare their entry for next year.

“They are already talking about competing again next year and have made a list of improvement ideas and concepts they need to learn,” said Eastman.

  • future city competition
  • gmis
  • otaranda
  • project based learning
  • stem
  • total experience learning