Michigan's National Future City Champs Headed For Space Camp

SOUTHFIELD — The national champions of Future City are headed to Alabama for a week at Space Camp.

The team from St. John Lutheran School in Rochester, four-time defending champions of The Engineering Society of Detroit Michgian Regional Future City Competition, claimed the title national champs during the National Engineers Week Future City competition in February.

Jon Pfund, a teacher at St. John who has been involved in Future City for 17 years, and St. John’s engineer-mentor Dr. Linda Gerhardt of General Motors, will participate in Space Academy for Educators July 19-24.

And St. John’s three Future City presenters — Justin Judd, 13, Rebecca Oleskie, 14, and Paul Rosa, 14 — will participate in Space Academy for grades 7-9 on July 20-25.

The trip is part of the prize package received with the title of national champs.

“We’re proud to sponsor this terrific program to increase awareness about science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers,” said ESD executive vice president Darlene Trudell. “And we’re even prouder that our Michigan champions brought home the national trophy. Programs like Future City help The ESD emphasize to youth that engineering and science careers can be a lot of fun.”

According to Gerhardt, the students will participate “in a team activity where they are going to be planning a space mission, and then complete the mission on mockups of a space shuttle… There are a lot of cool gadgets they get to try out.”

St. John’s will also be holding a “team building” event Friday, July 11, when the team will watch the 1986 movie “Space Camp” and the 2013 remake “Space Warriors.”

Gerhardt said she would put regular posts on a blog about her Space Academy experiences. Check back in this article for the blog’s web address.

For more on the St. John’s team, check out this story from WDIV-TV Local 4 meteorologist Andrew Humphrey.

Also, check out this story from Imagine, the magazine of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, about the St. John’s team.

And to view a Rochester local cable TV show of the St. John’s presentation, visit http://rochestermi.org/201/City-Webcasts, click on Rochester Reports, and then click on April 2014.

Future City is a cross-curricular educational program in which students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades imagine, design and build cities of the future. Over four months, students work in teams with an educator and engineer mentor to design a virtual city using the SimCity urban design computer game. They must also build a scale model of their city on a limited budget of just $100, as well as create an essay and a spoken presentation about their city. The presentation is offered to volunteer judges at the regional competition in January.

The 2014 Future City competition theme was “Tomorrow’s Transit: Design A Way To Move People In And Around Your City.” The team from St. John’s envisioned a city in mountainous south-central China called Gongpin in the year 2164. The city was organized around a transportation system called FAIR (Flexible, Accessible, Integrated, Renewable). FAIR linked all modes of transport, including personal vehicles, mass transit, and cargo systems. It was accessed through a voice-activated holographic communication system called LifeWatch.

The presenting sponsor of the 2014 Michigan Regional Future City competition was the DTE Energy Foundation. Major sponsors were the Ford Motor Co. Fund and the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.

If you would like to participate in next year’s Future City competition as a mentor, judge, or sponsor, please contact Allison Marrs, ESD Membership and Future City Program Manager, at (248) 353-0735, ext. 121, or amarrs@esd.org.

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