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New Jersey
Regional Coordinator: Sunny Mullen


For Educators

Hands-On Activities

  •  Set up a whiteboard with prospective students, to create a list of ideas on how they could make a city of the future better.
  • Make a mechanical arm out of junk, that must pick up a cup with no hands allowed closer than 30 inches.
  • Make food webs with a ball of yarn, thrown to people representing different elements in the environment.
  • Use an energy stick/energy ball with a group to illustrate conductivity, circuits, etc.
  • Hook a TV up to a handheld microscope.
  • Large card stock of optical illusions.
  • Use bright colored material and Skittles/M&M’s to illustrate camouflage and they have so many seconds to pick them up. It clearly shows those that are camouflaged are fewer than those that stand out.
  • Use SimCity game to create a specific mission, which they can play for one hour.
  • Chose a specific piece of infrastructure that needs improvement, preferably one that the students know well, and have the students come up with an instant design. Use tubs of arts and crafts supplies and prints of Google map of the area. The students build their ideas on the map, plus write out their ideas on separate 11 x 17 paper.
  • Use PowerPoint for an activity.
  • Use some recycled materials that student would pick up and choose a scale to see the scaled size; then think of what building that could be.
  • Have someone dress up like a “mad scientist” who does science experiments (volcano overflow, play with non-newtonian fluids, potato to make light bulb light up, etc.)
  • Hands-on play for kids to enjoy in between speeches at regional competition(balsam airplane gliders, remote controlled helicopters, “Let’s Explore Cubism”, “Treetop Constructive Building Set”, “Active Play Monkey Balance Board”.
  • Team building from the resources pages on the website.
  • Use a box of random recycled materials and have them work on planning and constructing structures; considering things like scale, zoning, and building use.
  • LED flashlights, Nanobug Labryinth, and Root Cause Analysis.
  • Spin the wheel to answer a Future City question and win a prize. 


Brownfield and Greyfield

Some teachers have had difficulties discussing these topics with students. 

In the United States and Canada, greyfield land is economically obsolescent, outdated, failing, moribund or underused real estate assets or land. The term was coined in the early 2000s from the 'sea' of empty asphalt that often accompanies these sites. (Wikipedia) Greyfields are quoted as being “Typically located in suburban areas, Greyfields, or failed retail malls represent sites that can be redeveloped into profitably mixed use walkable neighborhoods” (TSU Growth Management). It is likely that these locations have fallen victim to changing local economics, new retail formats, overbuilt retail, or loss of anchor stores. It is very likely that everyone is familiar with a shopping center in their area that can't seem to keep more than a couple of tenants at a time.

Brownfield is a term used in urban planning to describe land previously used for industrial purposes or some commercial uses. Such land may have been contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution or is feared to be so (Wikipedia). Brownfield redevelopments are typically more expensive than the development of Greyfields because with Brownfields sites they have to be safely cleaned up correctly because of the implied perception of environmental contamination may be present (TSU Growth Management). According to the EPA, it is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.


Project for Public Spaces

Placemaking: designing cities for people, not just cars and shopping centers.

Ten Strategies for Transforming Cities and Public Spaces through Placemaking

    Placemaking is based on a simple principle: if you plan cities for cars and traffic, you will get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you will get people and places.
    A great urban park is a safety valve for the city, in which people living in dense urban areas can find breathing room.
  3. (...)

The Power of 10+: Applying Placemaking at Every ScaleThe idea behind this concept is that places thrive when users have a range of reasons (10+) to be there. These might include a place to sit, playgrounds to enjoy, art to touch, music to hear, food to eat, history to experience, and people to meet.


AAAS Science NetLinks

“Find Science Lessons and Tools for K-12.” This website hosts a wealth of information and lesson plans for a broad range of science topics. Here are just a few of the results we found that may be helpful when approaching this year’s theme.

  • Soil Erosion: In this lesson, students explore and verify that soil erosion is affected by the makeup of the soil using plant roots, rocks, and the slope of the land as experimental factors.
  • Plant Propagation: In this lesson, students grow a plant by vegetative propagation and understand why it might be advantageous to do so.
  • Wildflower Garden: The focus of this lesson is for students to design a wildflower garden in order to gain a better understanding about designing a complex system and realizing that there are always constraints and trade-offs to be made when designing a human-made system.
  • Identification and Classification of Grassland Plants: This lesson provides students an opportunity to observe the similarities and differences among plant species. 


Teacher Workshop

The teacher workshop is an informal gathering to introduce new teachers to the competition, an interactive forum where they can ask questions.  We also try to cover changes in the competition, and the calendar for the coming competition.  We are also open to suggestions from teachers, as not all teachers that attend are new to the program.

UD: 11/01/16