Walled Lake students place at city planning competition

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 1, 2018

WALLED LAKE — Students from the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools district recently placed in a competition all about planning and designing for the future.

Students from Sarah Banks Middle School and Geisler Middle School competed in the Future City Competition, hosted by the Engineering Society of Detroit Jan. 23 in Novi.

The Future City Competition allows students to team up to imagine, design and build their own city for the future that addresses a challenge determined by the ESD. Students are given four months to prepare for the competition to build a city that exists at least 100 years in the future.  

“(The students) learn about what makes a city function and what types of things you have to have in a city to make it run,” said Mark Lada, a science teacher and Future City team leader from Sarah Banks Middle School. “Kids research their ideas, then build their city. Physically, they make a model (of the city) and then write a report.” 

The nationwide competition is broken down by state, and all middle schoolers can compete.

“We are very fortunate to have teachers support these opportunities for students,” John Gregg, a math and science instructional coordinator for the school district, said in a press release.

Lada said that the teams are very much student-led. He and other teachers mostly just facilitate. The students come up with their own ideas and answers to questions.

This year’s challenge was to design a city that addresses the challenges faced by aging people in urban environments. The teams had to create innovative solutions for the problems set for them. 

The competition took place at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Groups of engineers, city planners and other essential municipal staff asked the teams about their cities and judged them. 

“That’s probably one of the best parts — the kids get to spend time defending their city and answering questions from adults who are truly interested,” said Lada. 

Geisler’s team finished in fourth place overall in the competition. Team 1 from Sarah Banks won Best Project Plan, and Team 3 from Sarah Banks won the Best Schoolhouse Award and the Best Use of Green Principles Award.

“I’m consistently impressed with the amount of interest ESD puts into the kids’ work,” said Lada. “I can’t express enough how important it is for the kids to know the stuff they’re doing matters to other adults. Their ideas are heard, and there is some legitimacy given to them.” 

The first-place team in each region was slated to compete in the finals Feb. 20 in Washington, D.C.