Riverview’s ‘other’ Future City’s team proud of accomplishment

Team Acropolis, made up of (from left) Paige McCutcheon, Wyatt Couch, Tyson Thompson, Avery Drabenstot and Sophia Derico, proudly stand behind their model city, Acropolis, part of their award-winning Future City presentation that garnered them second place in the Indiana Regional preliminary competition on Jan. 20. The shadow in the background of the model is that of Seattle, WA, which provided the inspiration for their presentation.
Team Acropolis, made up of (from left) Paige McCutcheon, Wyatt Couch, Tyson Thompson, Avery Drabenstot and Sophia Derico, proudly stand behind their model city, Acropolis, part of their award-winning Future City presentation that garnered them second place in the Indiana Regional preliminary competition on Jan. 20. The shadow in the background of the model is that of Seattle, WA, which provided the inspiration for their presentation. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally publlished Feb. 8, 2018.

This is a story, not about the team from Riverview Middle School that won the Future City regional competition, but about the team that did not.
In fact, they wound up not placing at all, but the members of Team Acropolis are pretty darned proud of that fact. Here’s why.

During regional competition that was held Jan. 20 at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Team Panacea, one of the two Riverview eighth-grade teams to compete, received a first-place ranking in the preliminary round, coming out on top over a field of 17 teams. Team Panacea went on to win the championship, also taking awards for Best City Essay, Best Virtual City Presentation, Best Model and Best Presentation, following this year’s theme of “The Age-Friendly City.”

Team Acropolis came in second place in the preliminary round with its futuristic city model and also won awards for Most Technically Sound City and Outstanding Artistic Vision.

But even though Riverview swept the top two spots in the first round of competition, the Future City rules state that only one team from any given school can be in the top five for the final judging. So second-place Team Acropolis, basically, did not place, and a team from another school took its spot in the final round.

But you won’t hear Team Acropolis members crying in their root beer; in fact, the entire school is pretty proud of their achievements, even if they didn’t bring home the trophy. And the team members – Wyatt Couch, Sophia Derico, Avery Drabenstot, Paige McCutcheon and Tyson Thompson – know that what they’ve created is a top-notch futuristic city plan that made an impression on Future City judges with their model, innovations and presentation.

Acropolis’ coach, eighth-grade science teacher Patty Jacobs, says the project-based learning program is designed to get kids to imagine, research, design and build cities of the future.

“We do this with all of the eighth-graders, so it’s really an engineering activity. There are different components to this activity, and one of them is to write a 1,500 word essay, where the kids choose a city, research the city and then come up with ideas for futuristic technology,” Jacobs explains. “They have to base their city 100 years in the future.”

Research included all the engineering systems that make a city run, its infrastructure and components that make up the basic functionality of a city.

“They each had these different parts of the city to research,” Jacobs says. “The hard part was thinking a hundred years into the future. What would it be like in the future? What kind of innovative engineering can we add to our city? They really had to collaborate and think about the future.”

Their ideas also had to follow the age-friendly theme, coming up with innovations that would allow the city’s Senior Citizens to experience an optimal quality of life. They imagined a city similar in size of Seattle, WA.

One of the major Senior-friendly solutions Team Acropolis created is called an AcroMed Telecator.

“It functions somewhat like a phone, but you can also add different medical devices. If you needed pills or something like that, it would be included in the actual device,” says Sophia Derico. “Then you could use that whenever you needed and you could send a reminder.”

The team also developed the Goldfinch Retirement Center, which is the state bird of Washington State.

“In the retirement center we have a virtual reality room, where you can watch educational videos and movies,” Derico says. “We also have a therapy pool, and that had a lot of stuff like resistance waves, and there were exercise bikes in the water for physical activity.”

A driving range was also included in the city’s plan, encouraging the city’s residents to be physically active.

The students spent countless hours after school working on their project, even devoting three days over Christmas break to get it just right. Tyson Thompson says one of the most challenging things about building the model was making the city’s waterways look realistic.

“First we ‘poured it,’ and then we had the word ‘water’ come through the resin,” he says. “The resin pulled the word ‘water’ up that we had written with a Sharpie. We covered it in three layers of paint and then put the resin on. The resin pulled the Sharpie (ink) up through the paint. We pulled the whole thing off, tore all the resin off, and we had to redo it.”

The overall look of the city has LED lights lighting up the landscape, and a central, cool blue light shining through the centerpiece structure to create a luminous effect. Building windows feature blingy-looking solar windows and creative use of green space. Every part of the Acropolis model – with the exception of a boat they created with a 3-D printer, had to be made from “repurposed” articles.

“One of the toughest things was trying to find buildings that looked futuristic,” said Wyatt Couch. “Over time we slowly collected items. Everything is recycled – straws, ornaments, bottles, test tubes and tiles.”

They say their hard work paid off, garnering them a score of 64 points to Team Panacea’s 66 points. No one complained.

“I think we did pretty good,” says Avery Drabenstot.

Four other heads nod in agreement.