Two Taos teams place in top five at 'Future City' competition

By Doug Cantwell
dcantwell@taosnews.com
Posted 1/23/20

Teams from Taos Charter School and Taos Integrated School of the Arts took fourth- and fifth-place honors, respectively, at the state-level "Future City" competition held in Albuquerque Jan. 11.

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Two Taos teams place in top five at 'Future City' competition

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Teams from Taos Charter School and Taos Integrated School of the Arts took fourth- and fifth-place honors, respectively, at the state-level "Future City" competition held in Albuquerque Jan. 11.

Future City starts with a question: How can we make the world a better place? To answer it, teams of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders imagine, research, design and build cities of the future that showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue.

The 2019-2020 theme was "Clean Water: Tap Into Tomorrow." Teams chose a threat to their city's water supply and designed a resilient system to maintain a reliable supply of clean drinking water.

The teams had to complete five deliverables: a virtual city design, using the SimCity computer platform; a 1,500-word essay about their city and its problem; a scale model of their city built from recycled materials; a project plan that explains their solution; and a presentation to judges at the state or regional competition.

Among the three Taos Charter School teams, Emma Atkinson, Violet Hay and Karissa Winters took fourth place overall out of 43 participating teams for their entry, "Vera City."

TISA students opted to work together as a single team of 10, with guidance from sponsoring teacher Sally Greywolf. Their entry, "Utopia," took fifth-place honors.

"It's an amazing program," said Greywolf. "We often have our kids work in groups of three, but collaborating with that many others presented a whole new challenge. It's when the struggles occurred, though - that's when the growth started to happen."

Greywolf pitched the idea to Avery Blair and Stephanie Daffron at Taos Academy. No one there had ever competed, but Blair and Daffron got three smaller teams organized.

"Students worked on these projects for months," said Blair, "and their hard work truly paid off. We were thrilled at how well the teams did during multiple judging and presentation sessions."

Judah Daffron, Aaliyah Padilla, Joaquin Rose and Lucy Schreiber won awards for "Best Green Architecture" and "Best Presentation" with their city, "Umakyat." The team also won honorable mention.

Theo Blaustein, Scarlett Brunson and Saul Rotman won the "Best Accessibility" award for their city, "New Jefferson."

According to Future City's website, it's one of the nation's leading engineering education programs. It has received national recognition and acclaim for its role in encouraging middle-schoolers to develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Editor's note: Emma Atkinson is the daughter of Shane Atkinson, advertising manager at the Taos News.

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