New Castle students build city of the future
Last year, four Liberty Classical Academy students said goodbye to their Garfield County homes and embarked on a journey to establish a new city. Together Josephine Koschak, Olivia Newitt, Grace Miller and Camden Newitt founded Terra Mare, a future city they designed using computer software and then later created a scale model of out of recycled materials.
In January, Terra Mare won the Future City Regional competition for Colorado among hundreds of teams nationwide.
“We’re very excited to represent Colorado,” said Terra Mare’s hydraulic engineer Grace Miller, who created a future city for the third straight year. “Win or lose, we are just excited to enjoy this amazing opportunity with our best friends.”
She said teamwork and a willingness to compromise set this team a part from previous years.
“We got a lot of comments that our project was too girly and we ended up winning first place,” said Olivia Newitt.
More than 40,000 middle school students from 1,350 schools, as well as teams from Canada, China and the Middle East, imagined, designed and built cities for the national competition.
Finals will be held in Washington, D.C., from Feb. 17-20, culminating with one team taking home the grand prize of a trip to U.S. Space Camp and $7,500 for their school’s STEM program.
Working with Liberty Classical Academy teacher Ami Schibi, the team initially designed a virtual city using SimCity software and shared their progress using a slideshow presentation. Later they built a scale model of their city using recycled materials, which included at least one moving part.
Josephine Koschak explained one of the reasons the project becomes difficult is students quickly have to learn they must spend time wisely, as they can’t spend too much time on one particular aspect of the design. If the team spent too much time designing the solar panels and energy sector, the rest of the city’s infrastructure may suffer.
Along with the virtual city design, which was due in November, students wrote a 1,500 word essay describing the unique attributes of their city.
The team used cutting-edge technology to make their city run, such as their “tower tubes” for transportation that use magnets to move people from one place to another and has a much lower crash rate than others transportation methods.
Camden Newitt said the project taught the class first-hand about the different processes that make a city run.
As a team they all went on several different field trips throughout the county to see how different entities run, even visiting a nursing home in Glenwood Springs for research.
Senior care was essential to this year’s project. The Future City Competition 2018 theme, an age-friendly city, encouraged students to design solutions that could serve an urban area’s older population. By 2050, older adults will outnumber children under the age of 14, according to the competition materials.
Terra Mare, Latin for “land and sea,” spends considerable resources on its senior care with memory care facilities across the city to help elders with dementia. The city also has school and senior home programs set up to ensure interaction between the two generations.
“Health care can often be unaffordable,” Miller said.
Their eastern coast city was designed to be friendly for all ages.
When asked what made their project standout to judges, while they felt the city’s elderly care facilities were a big factor, they also said their use of drones was a big hit as well.
Terra Mare uses drone scanning for crime detection, leading to one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.
At the regional competition, students gave a seven-minute presentation followed by a five to eight minute Q&A where they discussed features of their future city and their solutions to the challenges assigned.
For those who may want to embark on the Future City journey next year, Miller said the teamwork and cooperation proved to be most important to their team’s success.
“You need to work together and cooperate,” she said. “You must be willing to compromise with your team members.”
Not everybody was in complete agreement on every major decision to the city’s infrastructure, but majority had to win out at times while what was best for the project had to at others, she explained.
“You have to make sure everybody’s voice is heard,” Olivia Newitt added. “Lack of communication led to some teammate issues.”
Terra Mare is the first team to win regionals from Liberty Classic Academy since 2006.