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Briarcliff Middle Schoolers Create ‘Bearsville’ City

The virtual city—built via SimCity—has been casted into a scale model and will be presented in the Annual Future City Competition Regional Finals Jan. 18 in NYC.

Photo credit: Michael Nocella
Photo credit: Michael Nocella

Briarcliff Middle School’s (BMS) "Future City" club is taking its fictional city, Bearsville, to the big city.

The club is one of 21 New York teams competing in the Future City Competition Regional Finals, which will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Sony Wonder Technology Lab at 550 Madison Ave and 56th street in New York City. Being that this is the club’s first year in existence, it does not expect to be one of the three teams chosen to go to the national round, which will be held Feb. 15-18 in Washington, D.C.

“We don’t expect to win this weekend,” BMS teacher and Future City Club leader Jodi Shearer told Patch. “Saturday is more of a learning experience to really know what we need to do next year to make it to the national round. This is our pilot year, and we’ve accomplished a lot.”

Shearer and her 30 Future City students (10 of which will be making the trip to NYC) have spent the year building a functional city on “SimCity.” Inspired by their schools mascot, the Bears, they dubbed the city Bearsville.

“It’s got everything a real city has,” Shearer said. “We have windmills, a garbage center, town hall,  and police and fire departments.”

Shearer said the club is finishing the scale model of Bearsville on Friday, and will present it at the competition on Saturday. It sent in the electronic model of the city last week to be reviewed. There is also a research essay component for the competition, however, team Bearsville sat that part out this time around.

“We figured we’d skip that part this year,” Shearer said. “We’re just trying to figure out how this whole thing works this year so that next year, around this time, we’re hoping to make it to the next level.”

About Future City

Future City has received national attention and acclaim for its role in encouraging middle schoolers nationwide to develop their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The annual challenge is one of the nation’s leading engineering education programs and among the most popular. Locally the program is organized each year by an all volunteer group of engineers from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Led by an educator and engineer mentor, students learn the basics of city planning and management as they design a virtual city using SimCity software. Via the research essay, the students delve deeper into a citywide issue. This year’s question asks them to review the transportation options and needs of their own city, create viable ideas that consider safety, accessibility, intermodality and sustainability in an effort to re-imagine a better and more efficient city. From there, each team builds a physical model of their city using recycled materials costing no more than $100.

Along the way, the students also learn about the engineering disciplines that encompass their solutions, including learning and identifying the steps of the design process.

For more information on judging or mentoring in the Future City Competition, visit www.futurecity.org.

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