Photo:The team; from left; Emily Howley, Bridget Cort, Jamie DaSilva, Hannah O’Sullivan, Hardik Pokhrel, Jonathan Peddle, Nikhilesh Rattan, Derek Sebastiao and Nasreen Kaur show off their trophy and the mock-up of their future city “Samanborg.”
Photos by Emily Howley
A team of 10 Argenziano School 7th and 8th graders bested more than 20 other teams of middle school students from throughout New England, winning best overall design in the regional competition of the 2017 Future City Engineering New England Regional Completion held January 21 in Boston.
The challenge this year: the Power of Public Space. Middle school students from about two dozen locations throughout New England entered the yearly regional competition; each vying for the grand prize of a week at Space Camp in Alabama.
Argenziano students won best entry overall as well as two categories: best presentation and best virtual city.
Argenziano principal, Alexander Mathews, said “Pondering the needs of the cities of the future is not easy. These students had to use all they’d learned, but also be able to think on their own and be able to innovate and create. They did all this while collaborating with each other throughout the process. That is really impressive and all of us are so proud of what they accomplished. We wish them the best of luck in DC later this month!”
Students participating in the Future Cities challenge are asked to design a self-sufficient city; build a scale model and create a virtual city through SIMCITY. They are also tasked with creating a project plan, writing an essay about their designs and work crafting a presentation of their city to a panel of judges.
Argenziano’s team, with Michael Coughlin, the 7th and 8th grade science teacher as advisor, embraced the challenge; designing the city of Samanborg (meaning Together City in Icelandic). The city boasts commerce, industry, vertical urban farming and even has universities and colleges; all powered by a combination of a geothermal power plant and electricity generated by athletes working out in the city’s gyms.
The city, Samanborg, features public spaces that support both artistic and athletic endeavors. The youngsters constructed an amphitheater for performances, laid out skating, biking and hiking paths and even created a linear park, similar to the High Line in Manhattan. One design feature they all liked was the “magic” poetry; words etched into the city’s sidewalks and designed to appear in rainstorms.
“Public spaces are necessary in cities because they bring people together; they build a sense of community and ensure public safety,” said Emily Howley, a seventh grader working on Future Cities for the first time. Derek Sebastiao, an eighth grader and one of the co-captains, agreed.
“Public spaces make cities safer,” said Mr. Sebastiao. “It also brings people face-to-face.” From graffiti walls to mosaics and even poetry built into sidewalks revealed only in wet conditions, the students strived to create a city that met human needs.
“We put the roads underground, provided public transportation and made the city beautiful as well as innovative,” said the team.
“Derek had the judges laughing through the whole presentation,” said Ms. Howley. Seventh graders participating in the club were Jamie DaSilva, Bridget Cort, Hardik Pokhrel, Jonathan Peddle, Nikhilesh Rattan and Howley. Participating eighth graders were Sebastiao, Nasreen Kaur and Hannah O’Sullivan; they served as the team captains.
Sebastiao, who participated in the 2016 challenge where Argenziano students won best model and placed sixth overall, is super proud of the team.
“We all worked very hard; not just the captains, but the whole team,” he said, praising his younger, less experienced, teammates.
Past topics have included storm water management, urban agriculture and green energy. Argenziano teams have won best model (2016) and best educational system (2015).
The students are looking forward to attending the national competition scheduled to be held in Washington D.C. over the President’s Day week.
Photos:Jaime fc: Jaime DaSilva works with teammates to repair minor damage to Samanborg after its arduous trip to the regional competition held in Boston in January.
Hannah fc: Hannah O’Sullivan eyes a displaced piece of Samanborg.
bridget fc: Argenziano scholar Bridger Cort re-glues a section of Samanborg that was dislodged during transportation of the model city to and from the competition held in Boston in January.