Middle schoolers envision ideal 22nd century city

At a time when it’s tough to imagine what life might be like in 10 years, a group of middle school students are trying to envision life 100 years from now. 

alt="McGuire Middle School students build a paper-mache hill as part of their model."

McGuire Middle School students build a paper-mache hill as part of their model.

 

Ten McGuire Middle School students are creating their ideal city as part of Future City. The international project that challenges middle school students to brainstorm, design and build a city.

 

Adviser Alesia Arlandson said the students have been working two mornings a week before classes start to research, design and build their model.

 

“Each year, Future City picks a different theme,” Arlandson said. “This year, it’s creating a city friendly for people who are aging.”

 

That’s prompted students to think about what amenities the elderly need. As part of their research, the students talked with people at the Heritage Senior Center in Lakeville.

 

Alderville will be situated in Australia, just south of the equator and sufficiently inland to avoid hurricane damage, Arlandson said. It will be close to an existing national forest and be laid out in a circle with downtown in the center and neighborhoods on outer edges. Stores will be located throughout the city to make shopping accessible. Alderville will even include moving sidewalks to help those with disabilities easily get to where they need to go.

 

Among the advice from Lakeville senior citizens, students will make sure hospitals have comfortable beds and pillows, plenty of volunteer opportunities, affordable housing for all, plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and shops, and at-home care for pets and personal needs.

 

Alderville will have a world-class medical center known as Mustard Hospital, a nod to Minnesota’s world-famous Mayo Clinic, Arlandson said.

 

“They’re really clever,” Arlandson said.

 

alt="Alesia Arlandson gives instructions to her Future City club members. The group meets before school to create a fictitious city 100 years in the future."

Alesia Arlandson gives instructions to her Future City club members. The group meets before school to create a fictitious city 100 years in the future.

The project itself consists of designing their ideal city in the SimCity computer game. Students also will describe their ideal city in a 1,500-word essay and a 3D model measuring 25 inches by 50 inches built of recyclable materials and at least one movable part. Students are trying to create a moving sidewalk that locks wheelchairs in place for an easy ride. The “smart sidewalk” will know when the rider is at the destination location and will unlatch the wheelchair.

 

Working to plan and build the model has been the most enjoyable part for sixth grader Sophie Liberty. She said she was most surprised by how small the model actually seemed once the team began construction.

 

This is the second year seventh grader Tally Hessian has been part of Future City. She said she’d enjoyed making new friends and loves the teamwork the project requires.

 

Arlandson credited Lakeville City Engineer Zach Johnson for helping students understand design and engineering. Jess Luce, program manager for Communities for a Lifetime Initiative, also provided information on sustainable living.

 

Arlandson said she is impressed with the students’ teamwork and creativity.

 

“They’re so uplifting,” she said. “One student will offer an idea, which sparks another. They encourage each other.”

 

The students will take part in a regional competition Jan. 20 at Dakota County Technical College.

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