4 Riverview teams compete in contest touting cities of future

Riverview Middle School eighth grade students Amara Eckert (left) and Olivia Rosen practice their presentation of the future they have created, Hydrophageopolis, shown in model form in preparation for the Future City Competition regionals on Saturday at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne.
Riverview Middle School eighth grade students Amara Eckert (left) and Olivia Rosen practice their presentation of the future they have created, Hydrophageopolis, shown in model form in preparation for the Future City Competition regionals on Saturday at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne.

Originally publsihed Jan. 22, 2015.

Anyone interested in catching a glimpse at the cities of the future may need to go no further than Fort Wayne, when the DiscoverE Indiana Future City Regional Competition gets underway on Saturday at Indiana University-Purdue University.

Four teams from Riverview Middle School will be part of that contest.

The eighth grade student teams will go up against 26 other middle school teams from around the region. Riverview science teacher Bill Bostain says out of 36 teams at Riverview, comprising all of the eighth grade class, only four were chosen to advance to the regional competition. They are named by the future cities they have created: Hydrophageopolis, Tallahassee, Tallulah and Yuma.

“This year’s theme was ‘Feeding Future Cities,’ and so their goal was to design a city that would feed their citizens for an entire growing season,” Bostain explains. “They had to pick a vegetable and a protein to grow that would feed their citizens. So they based their city off of what they could do to grow that crop.”

The rules for putting together a city of the future involve project-based learning, Bostain says, utilizing STEM (science, technology, engineeringand math) education.

“We’re looking at mathematics, science and English. They write a paper, an essay based off their city, and they do a presentation,” he says. “There are several math things we do, conversions and scale … and then we talk about a lot of science concepts. In this case, growing the food and what it takes. We looked at the nutritional needs of the plants. We look at water quality and things like that.”

The teams were given a location to build their city and a $100 budget to build the model using only recycled materials. Hydrophageopolis, which is built on the fictional ruins of Baton Rouge, LA, following a devastating hurricane in the year 2020, is one such project.

“We brought in household materials,” says Olivia Rosen, a member of the Hydrophageopolis team. “Our fire station and education centers are made of globes that you’d find on a fan. Our apartment buildings are actually made out of petri dishes.”

Other materials came from a lamp, a blender, and other bits and pieces of salvaged items, making for an impressive skyline.
The six-student group researched not only the city, but also the climate and weather patterns to base their designs from.

“My favorite thing about this project is probably learning about everything that really contributes to this city,” Rosen says. “Not everything is suitable for each and every city, because of the climate. As for our city, we learned that underneath the soil you need to have a certain types of foundation to make your buildings suitable … if we didn’t make deep foundations, then the buildings would just slide off because they wouldn’t have support.”

Another teammate, Amara Eckert, says one of the most valuable skills she learned about this project is teamwork.

“Without teamwork we couldn’t have made this project how it is right now,” she says, with pride in her voice. “We were each assigned a different task to make the city how it is. Olivia did an essay, Tal wrote the script, and the boys built the model — well, we all did that at one point, but the boys did a majority of that, and I helped with whatever was needed.”

Eckert also came up with the name “Hydrophageopolis” — which uses Greek words for water, food (thing that devours or eats) and city.
Tal Ben-Yehoshua, who wrote the presentation script, says the group has been working on their city since November and hopes to be ready to give a stellar presentation Saturday at regionals.

“We’re still working on it, some last things, a little more details on the model and making sure everything is as perfect as can be,” she says. “Right now we are rehearsing day and night on our script to memorize everything. When we wake up; and this is our bedtime story. This is what we read when we’re eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. We don’t have social lives anymore; this is what has taken over.”

The stakes are high, but so is the prize. Gift cards and medals will go to finalists.

The winner of the Indiana regional competition will advance to the finals, to be held in Washington, DC, in February. The top prize at the national finals is $7,500 for the school’s STEM program plus a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL, for the team members.

The public is invited to view and discuss the models with the teams participating in Saturday’s competition between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in the Walb Student Union Ballroom at IPFW.

More information is available about the Future City Competition at www.futurecity.org.