At competition, students model future cities around clean energy

Grace Eason, left, and other members of the Punarjanma city team, Maame Britwum, Cadence Learned, Trenna Soderling and Bennett Haase-Divine, all from West Middle School, describe their city of the future to Natalie McCombs, a bridge design engineer with HNTB Corporation in Kansas City, Mo., and a judge in the 2012 Great Plains Region Future City Competition on Saturday at Kansas University. The West Middle School team placed second in the competition.

The cities of the future will be models of efficiency and good living. They will run on clean energy and have staggeringly beautiful gardens. They will also have names like Snoopy City and Pinkville.

At least, that’s the vision a few hundred bright middle school students laid out Saturday, as they competed in the Great Plains Region Future City Competition. Forty-six teams from 28 regional schools brought model cities to the Kansas Union to show off their engineering know-how and explain why their city should be chosen as the best model for future cities.

“Our houses are tall so the wind will get to the turbines,” said Satori Good, pointing to a turbine atop a house in her team’s model.

Her team, made up of Liberty Memorial Central Middle School sixth-graders, was jazzed up for the competition. They finished each other’s sentences, chattering about vehicles propelled by electromagnets and community gardens as tall as buildings.

The focus of the competition was alternative energy, but judges also grilled the students on waste disposal and transportation for their cities.

A team of West Middle School eighth-graders tackled the energy problem by designing a city powered by the planet’s heat, the way it’s done in Iceland.

“I enjoyed working on new designs and making them environmentally friendly,” Sydney Gard said. “Our city is powered by geothermal energy.”

Gard is interested in studying engineering in the future.

An all-girl team from Raytown South Middle School had one of most aesthetically pleasing models, a city called Pinkville.

“I didn’t come up with the name,” insisted one team member.

The team decided to use hydroelectricity, via turbines turned by nearby water, to power its city.

“We also have solar panels that power small buildings,” Kaitlyn Barkley said.

The competition was sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Kansas University School of Engineering hosted the event. The winning team, a group from Leawood Middle School who called their city Sassafrassia, will be going to Washington, D.C., to present their model at national competition. These students were: Miles Green, Katie Hull, Roxanna Hamidpour, Joey Holliday, Julia Lytle, Sean McCray, Hannah Motley, Deven Pandya, Anna Song, Robert Tenny and Anja Tonkovic-Capin. The group from West Middle School won second place with Punarjanma. This group was: Maame Britwum, Trenna Soderling, Grace Eason, Cadence Learned and Bennett Haase-Divine. Third place went to Southwest Middle School with Palekaiko. This group was: Elliott Abromeit, Charles Burdick, Spencer Conard, Mikey Corbett, Matt Roe, Joaquin Dorado-Mariscal, Noah Christilles and Ethan Kallenberger.