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Student Goal: Feeding Cities In The Future
The Future City class of Margaret Banks at Cardozo Middle School was in good spirits after they constructed the model of the future city they presented to judges at the 2015 Future Citys challenge. Photo Contributed

Thirteen students from Cardozo Middle School (CMS) have been working hard during the fourth period class taught by Margaret Banks, developing new solutions for sustainable farming in an urban area for their Future City project. They offered up that project recently for the annual Future City competition with this year’s theme of Feeding Future Cities.

Cardozo students along with seven other teams from Stanislaus County schools and one Stanislaus County organization competed in the Stanislaus County Future City Practice Competition on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) in Modesto.

This annual event is sponsored by SCOE and supported by the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County and Mercer Foods. The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Working as a team, students join forces with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges.

First year Art, Future City, and Yearbook teacher Banks said she learned a great deal and the students did as well, composing their virtual city on the SimCity website with several other components to the project like a research essay, building a tabletop scale model, writing a brief narrative promoting their city and presenting it to judges.

Cardozo students Salomon Toro, George Navarro, Saul Garcia and Joey Garcia participated in the competition and presented their city to the judges and answered tough questions.

“Every year the future city has a major topic, for example last year it was on transportation and this year it was food, they had to choose a vegetable and a protein that would sustain their residence for 150 years and so our students chose rabbit for the protein and bamboo for the vegetable,” stated Banks. “It is very innovative and very cool.”

As a team the students built their model which included a rabbit factory and an area for growing bamboo, which they researched and found there were a lot of health benefits.

“Since it was a city they had to focus on urban agriculture and how they could integrate the growing of the bamboo and the rabbits into the urban setting,” added Banks. “They did a great job.”

The Future City students at Cardozo did not have an engineer mentor so they did the best they could on their own, according to Banks.

“I like the future city, we get to research stuff and we get to build a model and present it,” said Joey Garcia. “I researched it and found out that rabbit and bamboo are two plentiful resources.

“Bamboo has a lot of nutrients, it doesn’t have a lot of fat or sugar or sodium it’s got a lot of healthy stuff and not a lot of bad stuff.”

The sentiments from the CMS Future City team were all the same regarding the competition, which was that it was fun and it was a great experience building their own tabletop model of their future city.

The Future City Competition for Northern California Regional State Finals was on Saturday, Jan. 24 at CSU, Stanislaus in Turlock. Gratton School seventh graders won the Regional State Finals and will represent Northern California at the National Finals in Washington, D.C. in February.

Last year, Modesto Girl Scout Troop #2225 placed first at the Northern California Regional State Finals and went on to the National Competition in Washington D.C.

Future City has received national attention and acclaim for its role in encouraging middle school students nationwide to develop their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The annual challenge is one of the nation’s leading engineering education programs and among the most popular.

“We had great family support too with a lot of parent involvement especially at the end,” expressed Banks. “People helped with transportation and dads put their two cents in to help a little bit.”