Middle school students deliver model city to transportation board

Students from Lake Hazel Middle School had a captive audience this week when they pitched the virtues of a city 150 years into the future.

The middle school students presented their award-winning design to board members during the business meeting at ITD Headquarters. Their model city won a special award for innovation, presented by ITD and the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, as part of the annual Future City competition recently at Boise State University.

Zotrusydta will be a virtual Utopia that addresses traffic congestion and safety by computer-controlled, solar-powered streets and a medical program that eliminates many of the residents’ health issues. There will be no need for traffic signals, because computers control cars to pre-programmed destinations. If the city’s computerized transportation system fails, each car will be controlled independently with onboard systems.

The intelligent roads also will monitor pedestrian and bicycle traffic and ensure harmony with motorized vehicles. Solar collection panels will heat streets and sidewalks so there will be no need for plows, sanding and deicing.

Members of the Idaho Transportation Board no doubt wish they had some of the futuristic technology to apply to the existing highway system.

Board members congratulated the students for their ingenuity and hard work.

Karissa Hardy, who was among the ITD volunteers at the Future City competition, described the project for board members and introduced the four students. After the board meeting, students received an extensive tour of ITD’s Headquarters facilities.

ITD and LHTAC volunteers joined in creating the special “Accessible City Award” that was presented to Lake Hazel.

Their creation was considered “the most accessible design for people with disabilities, the elderly and others with mobility impairments.” Lake Hazel students designed the most innovative systems for transportation, public rights of way, and accessibility.

The Future City™ competition is a free educational program for students in grades 6-8, run entirely by volunteers. It is a national program that fosters an interest in math, science and engineering through hands-on, real world applications. The program emphasizes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), Hardy explained.

Students began working on the project in September, culminating with the regional competition in late January. It was an extracurricular activity for the Lake Hazel students, and involved research, a field trip, creative thinking and a lot of teamwork
Competition consists of four components, are judged by volunteers from the engineering community:

1. Computer simulation of a city that has progressed at least 150 years into the future. Utilizing SimCity computer software.
2. Written essay on theme topic (Virtual Medicine) and written abstract about the city.
3. Physical model built to scale of a portion of the city ($100 limit).
4. Oral presentation about the city.

The winning team for the Idaho Regional Competition goes on to compete at the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Photos: Students explain the advantages of living in their model city of Zotrusydta (top); ITD's Karissa Hardy provides an overview of the Future City program to board members (bottom, left).

Published 2-18-2011