Iowa students design cities of the future

The Iowa students of today are imagining the cities of tomorrow, thanks to a local competition in Cedar Rapids.
Published: Jan. 28, 2023 at 11:44 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa students of today imagined the cities of tomorrow at the Future City Regional Competition, held at Prairie Point Middle School in Cedar Rapids on Saturday.

Jade Davis and Henry Garcia were part of a team from Evans Middle School in Ottumwa, Iowa. They made a diorama of a city in the Mexico of the future called “DeMitigar.”

“It’s ‘demitigation,’ I believe, in Spanish,” Davis said.

All students’ projects had to have a moving part. For DeMitigar, it was a strip of plastic moving up and down in the area meant to be the ocean.

“It uses the wave to make power,” Garcia said.

The theme of this year’s competition was sustainability and combating climate change, according to Samantha Dahlby, the director of K-12 education with NewBoCo, the nonprofit hosting the event. Along with the diorama, students had to write a 1,500-word essay and give a presentation to a panel of judges. 120 students were at Saturday’s event and the winners will go on to represent Iowa in the national competition.

Dahlby added that regardless of who wins and loses, all the students who participated were learning.

“It gives them an idea of different STEM fields,” Dahlby said. “It’s really important for them to have exposure to that so that they don’t self-select out of these potential careers.”

“So studies have shown that, in particular, girls will self-select out of STEM careers, because they don’t either see others like themselves, or no one’s encouraging them to pursue that, or they’re not even aware of it,” Dahlby added. “So by participating in programs at a younger age, they can see the parts of it they enjoy, how they like interacting with the team, partnering with it, and get some more exposure.”

The kids at the competition didn’t seem to be self-selecting out of technical fields. When KCRG-TV9 asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, the answers ranged from neurosurgeon to Supreme Court judge, proving these students had big dreams for themselves as well as for the future.

“It’s really fun to have to research and learn about it and get to tell people what Future Cities is all about. Because there’s some people that don’t think about this stuff,” Davis said.