Middle school students try their hand at city planning

by Jon Gargis MARIETTA — Some of today’s middle-schoolers might just be tomorrow’…

Georgia (Feb 3, 2016) — by Jon Gargis


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MARIETTA — Some of today’s middle-schoolers might just be tomorrow’s city planners, architects, engineers and scientists.

About three dozen teams of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from Cobb, metro Atlanta and across the state descended upon Kennesaw State University’s Marietta Campus on Saturday for the regional finals of the Future City Competition, which tasks middle-schoolers with imagining, designing and ultimately building tabletop models of cities of the future.

Tony Rizzuto, an associate professor at Kennesaw State University’s College of Architecture and Construction Management, served as regional coordinator for the competition. The Future City Program, which serves more than 40,000 students annually throughout the United States and abroad, was created as part of the educational outreach by DiscoverE, formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation.

“The idea is to essentially encourage students to consider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers by exposing them to engineering design processes, and to really begin to look at the environment and urbanism,” Rizzuto said of the program, adding that urban planners and architects assisted with Saturday’s competition, some of whom served as competition judges and mentors.

Before advancing to the regional competition, teams designed a virtual city using computer software and wrote an essay describing the unique features of their city and their solutions to the theme of “Waste Not, Want Not: Solid Waste Management Systems of the Future.” Saturday marked the culmination of the program, as students were tasked to give a presentation of their model cities and their waste management solutions, using their models as a prop. 

The model cities were built prior to the event, and students could only spend a maximum of $100 on their models, requiring them to use primarily recycled materials. 

“It’s to teach them about recycling, but B, it’s also about imagination — how can you look at something that’s used for one thing and reimagine it on a different scale for something else?” Rizzuto said.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu