Future City Spotlight is a new series showcasing the educators, engineer mentors and students who comprise the Future City Competition. In their own words, individuals will tell us about how Future City has affected them. 

Stephanie Cross, Educator at the Lawrence Family Development Charter School (LFDCS) in Lawrence, MA

Future City Region: New England

Participating in the Future City Competition has been a learning experience for both my students and myself. As a middle school science teacher, I had always wanted to bring the Future City competition to my school. It has so many components that I knew would engage students and deepen their thinking about engineering.

Today, in our second year of the Future City competition, LFDCS has five teams working on the Tomorrow’s Transit: Design A Way To Move People In And Around Your City challenge. This year, I’ve placed more emphasis on the research and engineering ideas supporting the teams’ future cities. More time has been spent on practicing our presentation skills and talking about our engineering ideas to clarify our thinking.

Although there was a steep learning curve in our first year, I had some great support along the way. The Lawrence Family Development Charter School (LFDCS), has a partnership with the University Of Massachusetts School Of Engineering, which has allowed us to do an after-school bridge building project with them. Introducing Future City was a very natural progression for that partnership. Undergraduate students majoring in Civil Engineering attend our meetings and provide coaching, mentoring and expert information throughout different stages of the project. Our students enjoy interacting with college students and see them as engineering role models. Some of the college students have even told me they feel like “Rock Stars “at our school!

In that first year, I received some great advice from Reed Brockman, New England Regional Director of SimCity, as I started to wonder if my students would ever leave the virtual world and make their models. He told me it was important to participate and not get bogged down with the project components, especially SimCity. Thus, I have shifted my emphasis from the products of Future City – the models and subsequent presentations that each team produces – the overall engineering design process. In other words, I have become less of a teacher and more of an engineering coach!

The most powerful thing about this project is the way that it transforms students. These talented pupils get a chance to work with different people from both their own school and from a local college. It gives them a place to try out new ideas and new skills, all while lending a voice to the dreams they have for themselves and their community.

I am convinced that there is an engineer waiting to be developed in every student. Future City is the perfect way to unlock that engineering potential!

Future City Website:http://futurecity.org/new-england

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FutureCityCompetition

School Website: http://www.lfdcs.org

If you have a story to share about your Future City experience, let us know! Contact press@futurecity.org.