City Model

City Model

Students build a physical representation of a section (or multiple sections) of their city using recycled materials. In addition to showcasing their city of the future, the City Model must also show the team’s solution to this year’s challenge. The model must have at least one moving part, be built to scale, and may not exceed the $100 expense budget (including any materials used in the presentation, Q&A, and Special Awards too).

Engineers, architects, scientists, and city planners all use models and visuals, like slideshows, to communicate their ideas, share their research, and predict the success of their design. Keep in mind that the ideas represented in the City Model should be in alignment with the team's City Essay.

Format for 2021-2022: To accommodate both in person and virtual learning environments, there are two model building options for the competition. Both options will be submitted via a slideshow format prior to the Regional Competition.
Option 1: Your team can choose to build one single model.
Option 2: Your team can choose to build multiple model segments. These model segments are separate pieces that
represent various sections of the city. Model segments do not need to fit together physically.

After constructing the model or model segments, each team will complete a slideshow (using the provided template) that showcases their city via photos, a link to a short video of the moving part, and brief descriptions of their work. Slideshows
will be scored by judges using the rubric

Getting Started

Before students get started, be sure to do the following:

Review the City Model Rubric (available to educators after registering)
Review the City Model Requirements
View the City Model Video Tutorial on our Resources page
View examples of other City Models in the Gallery for inspiration

City Model Requirements

Model Segments:

  • Teams may create multiple model segments, though there is a limit of 38 photo slots available in the slideshow. Be sure to review the slideshow template and rubric before beginning to plan your model or model segments.
  • Model segments do not need to fit together to form a single, physical model.
  • If a team makes multiple model segments, they must adhere to the overall size restrictions when placed together (details below).


  • Each model segment must be consistent with its scale. However, different segments (even among the same team) may use different scales. For example, if your team creates three model segments, each can have a separate scale (total of three), but each segment should be consistent in its scale.

Moving Part:

  • Each team will record a short video (no longer than 1 minute) demonstrating their moving part, describing the role it plays in the city, and explaining how the team designed and built it.
  • The team's educator will submit a link to this video at the same time they submit the slideshow (both via the Educator Dashboard at These short videos must be posted publicly on either YouTube or Vimeo.
  • Be sure to mention the name of your team/city in your video.


  • Each team will submit one slideshow. They can use photos from any model segments made by their team.
  • Teams will use the provided slideshow template.
  • Slides may not be added or deleted. Text in purple should be deleted before submission. Text in black should be left on the slides.
  • Teams may not change the text box sizes in the slideshow template. All descriptions must fit within the box.
  • The font size cannot be smaller than 14 and must be Calibri (or an equivalent) font.
  • The model slideshow must be saved as a PDF and submitted in the Online Portal at


  • The combined value of materials used in the City Model, Special Awards demonstrations, and City Presentation may not exceed $100.
  • Expenses must be reported using the Competition Expense Form.


  • Use of live animals, perishable items, or hazardous items (e.g., dry ice, fire, flying objects) is not allowed.
  • While a small number of individual pieces from previous competition models may be reused, models must be a new representation of a future city and built from the bare baseboards up.
  • For the 2021-2022 season, you do not need to include the cost of your flat empty base (e.g. the cost of plywood or similar material) in your team’s expense form.
  • The city model in its basic state must be no larger than 25” (W) x 50” (L) x 20” (H). During the presentation video and Q&A it is permissible to have extended parts as long as they are fully self-supported by the model, or – if removable – held by a presenter. If a team makes multiple model segments, they must adhere to the same overall size restrictions when placed together.

For the full list of rules and details on the City Model, download the Program Handbook after registering.