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Science to scale

Draper Middle School students present their vision at Future City Competition

Draper Middle School Students presented their glimpse of the future during the ninth annual Future City Competition at Hudson Valley Community College on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The program, which encourages students to use real-world applications of math, science and engineering, pits 18 teams from 17 schools across the Capital District who share their vision future of sustainability, transportation and planning. Using recycled materials, students create a scale version of what the future may look like.

The problems in this program are very real-world problems that we see on a daily basis, said Jennifer Smith, regional administrator of the Future City event.

With the help of the video game Sim City 4 and an engineer mentor from the community, the teams create scale models of future communities. Students then write an essay of 700 to 1,000 words on an engineering-related topic and a 300 to 500 word narrative describing the city's key features.

During the presentation at HVCC, the students give a talk about the city's design, model and essay topic. The culmination of all of these components leads to the overall score. Of 18 teams at the event, Draper Middle School was the only school from Schenectady County to participate in this year's event.

"They've really been dedicated; they've been working at least one night a week," said Gerald Garing, K-12 science administrator for the Mohonasen School District. Since the beginning of the school year, the students at Draper have worked to create their city in the virtual and real world. Taking a section of their futuristic city that was developed in their computer program, students then created a scale model using old CD's for solar panels, and creating waterways, bridges and homes. Working with engineer Matthew Hunt, Mohonasen students were able to create and present a city that earned the team the Association of Bridge Construction and Design's "Best Design and Construction of a Bridge" award.

"It's a worthy program," said County Legislature Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, who acted as a judge for the competition this year, and in previous years was a mentor for the Schalmont Middle School team. "I wish I had these programs available when I was in school."

Smith said that the use of writing, creativity and mathematics in the planning and development of the city brings together all the different fields of academics to tackle real-world situations.

"That's the thing that makes it ideal," said said. "It takes it all together."

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