Team of Scott Highlands Middle School students pictured with a tabletop model of their future city
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ROSEMOUNT, Minn. – A team of students from Scott Highlands Middle School finished runner-up and won a special award at the Minnesota Future City regional competition Jan. 20 at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount. Three other District 196 middle school teams also won special awards at this year’s competition, including two from Black Hawk Middle and one from Rosemount Middle.

Sponsored by the National Engineers Week Foundation, Future City is a national, project-based learning experience where middle school students imagine, research, design and build cities of the future that showcase their solutions to a citywide sustainability issue. The theme of this year’s competition is The Age-Friendly City. Teams identified an age-related challenge that exists in today’s urban environments and engineered two innovative solutions that allow their future city’s senior citizens to be active and independent.

Students work as a team with a teacher and engineer mentor to design their virtual city using SimCity software, research and write a 1,500-word essay about their city, build a tabletop scale model with recycled materials, develop a project plan and make a presentation to judges at the regional competition. Regional winners represent their region at the national finals held in Washington, D.C. each February.

The Estrella de la Montana team from Scott Highlands Middle (pictured) finished in second place overall and won the special award for Best Virtual City, given to the team with the highest-scoring design. Team members are Nicholas Adelmann, Audrey Jappert, Eshaan Jay, Stuart Milne and Ian Young. Teacher Theresa Back is their advisor and 3M Engineer Jim Kotsmith has volunteered as mentor of the Scott Highlands Future City teams for the past six years.

Black Hawk Middle’s Hyperion team won the special award for Readiness for Natural and Manmade Disasters and the Osoto team won the special award for Building Quality Communities, given to the team that best demonstrates how a city government can improve the quality of life for its citizens. Members of the Hyperion team are Kayli Breen, August Krahn, Olivia Noll, Braeden Puzder, Benjamin Rieffer and Jacob Williams. Members of the Osoto team are Chloe Breen, Tyler Burbey, Samuel Cohen, Owen Ford, Carter Larson, Tia Rao and Thuy-Sa Truong. Teacher David Herem is the advisor to both teams and Russ Matthys, director of Public Works for the city of Eagan, volunteers as their engineer mentor.

Team Harmony from Rosemount Middle won the Best Land Surveying Practices Award, which takes into consideration the high standards used by surveyors to help protect the public’s safety and welfare. Members of the team are Jacob Bigalk, Will Carrigan, Joe Colburn, Alex Neigebauer and Raunit Singh. Teachers Alicia Dodge and Megan Lynsky are the advisors and team mentors are retired 3M engineer Will Grunewald, Steve VanderWiel of IBM and Tom Bigalk, an elevator mechanic and electrician.

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