The Engineering Society of Detroit Tuesday announced new efforts to bring more middle schools from the Detroit Public Schools into its Future City compeittion — now renamed Future Detroit.
The ESD, with support from the DPS and the Detroit City Council, began the effort at the Phoenix Multicultural Academy on the city’s southwest side.
Future Detroit will continue with its challenge to sixth, seventh and eighth graders — envision a city far in the future, how it will work, how it will be powered, how it will feed its people, how it will take care of transportation, economic development, education, health care, water, waste, everything that goes into running a modern metropolis.
This year, the event will ask participants to envision Detroit in the year 2150 and beyond.
Students begin by designing the city in Sim City computer software. Then they build a model of their city with recyclable materials — and a $100 maximum budget for the model keeps the competition within the reach of all schools. The students also write an essay about their city, and select three team members to make a presentation about it to a panel of professional engineer judges.
This year’s focus for the competition is the biomedical field — students must provide detailed information on their city’s health care systems and its efforts to keep residents healthy.
The K-8 Phoenix Academy was a natural spot to make the announcement, according to principal Norma Hernandez. The school is in one of the few Detroit neighborhoods with a growing population, and the school has won numerous grants and awards.
Of the 49 participating schools on a list supplied by ESD Tuesday, 28 are from the city of Detroit.
ESD’s longtime goal in sponsoring the event was to boost the profile of so-called STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year, that acronym has been broadened to STEAM — since there will also be an emphasis on the arts.
Ron Smith, ESD’s director of education, said the Detroit region has a long history of top achievement at the national competition, where the regional winner goes. Last year’s Detroit regional champs from Birney Middle School in Southfield finished fifth nationally at the competition in Washington, D.C. and got a chance to shake hands with President Obama in the Oval Office.
Detroit city council president Charles Pugh encouraged the students at Tuesday’s event, saying that “I love the city of Detroit like everybody in this room, but to envision the city of Detroit far into the future is something we really need our young people to do.”
And Brenda Grafton, ESD Future City Liaison to the schools and a 37-year DPS teaching veteran, said Future City “allows Detroit students to believe they have a future, to design and develop that future, and to take ownership of that future.”
ESD also announced that all Future City teams will have the opportunity to participate in ESD’s first-ever children’s symposium, where they will hammer out key recommendations on the future of Detroit and present them to city leaders. The date for this event, called Envisioning Detroit Together, has not yet been set.
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