The Theme: The Age-Friendly City
The Topic: What does it mean to be a senior citizen? The official definition in most countries is a person who is more than 60 or 65 years old. Beyond that, there is little else that seniors have in common. Today, a revolution in the “culture of aging” is underway, and timeworn notions of the elderly no longer fit. Older adults are living longer, staying in the workforce longer, and contributing to their communities in myriad ways.
But aging can have its challenges. As people get older, they may experience physical and cognitive changes. Loss of mobility, visual and hearing impairments, slowed reflexes, illness, and memory loss are a few examples of changes that can create barriers to independent living and sometimes lead to isolation and loneliness.
Because the number of older adults will exceed the number of all children under the age of 14 by 2050, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed a framework to help cities become more age-friendly. This entails designing and adapting a city’s natural and built environment to create accessible and safe transportation options, barrier-free access to homes and public buildings, and health care support and services so that people can maintain their health and independence for as long as possible. Such features do not just benefit the elderly, but people of all ages.
The Challenge: Identify an age-related challenge that exists in today’s urban environments and engineer two innovative solutions that allow your future city’s senior citizens to be as active, independent, and engaged as they want to be.
What is Involved?
During the Future City Competition, students work as a team to design a virtual city using SimCity™ software. They research a city wide issue and write an essay with their findings and solutions. They build a tabletop scale model of their city using recycled materials costing no more than $100 and they write a brief narrative promoting their city. In January, they present their version of the future to a panel of judges at Regional Competitions.
Begin Regionally, Compete Nationally!
The teams that win their Regional Competitions receive round-trip transportation and hotel accommodations so they can compete at the National Finals held in Washington, DC in February. Fierce competition over four days results in one team taking home the grand prize of a trip to U.S. Space Camp and $7,500 for their school’s STEM program (provided by Bentley Systems, Inc.).
About Future City and the NJ Region:
Future City is a student outreach activity in New Jersey that has brought together the education community, local engineering alumni, engineering firms and various professional societies.
Our mission is to provide a fun and exciting educational engineering program for 6th, 7th & 8th grade students that combine a stimulating engineering challenge with a “hands-on” application to research, design and present their vision of a city of the future using SimCity Software and recycled materials.
In recent years the region competition has grown to over 500 participating students, teachers, and mentors. Feedback from both students and teachers has been exceedingly positive, with exclamations of an excellent engineering experience!