March 1, 2023
Fort Couch wins two national Future City awards
Fort Couch Middle School earned two awards – Best City Essay and the Special Award for Best Management of Water Resources – at the international DiscoverE 2023 Future City Competition on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
The Upper St. Clair team qualified for the international competition after placing first at the 2023 Pittsburgh Regional Future City Competition. While over 30 Fort Couch students worked on the project, the team was represented by eighth graders Josh Beitler, Ryan Katukota and Skanda Sathya Vagheeswar. Students were coached by Jason O’Roark, Fort Couch gifted and accelerated math teacher, and accompanied by Thomas Yochum, Upper St. Clair High School gifted education teacher.
Future City is a project-based learning experience where students in grades 6, 7 and 8 research, write about, build and present cities set 100 years in the future. Fort Couch students worked throughout the fall to transform the current city of Mogadishu into Biyaha Janada (Somali for paradise of water), existing 100 years in the future.
“With Fort Couch’s project’s emphasis on water, winning an award about water made sense,” Mr. O’Roark said. “However, we are especially proud of winning Best Essay. To have the best essay in the country validates all of the effort that went into researching, collaborating, coming up with ideas, and communicating them clearly. We are thankful that professional engineers appreciated our innovative approaches.”
Forty-two teams from throughout the United States and China competed over several days as they met with 25 different groups of scientists and engineers to discuss various parts of their city. Judges evaluated the students’ essay, model, seven-minute presentation, and their ability to answer a wide variety of difficult questions about their city.
“To prepare for the competition, the students researched current cutting-edge technologies, extrapolated them 100 years into the future, wrote an essay, created illustrations, built a two-foot by four-foot model, and wrote a seven-minute presentation that they delivered at the competition,” Mr. O’Roark said. “The students created innovations to help Mogadisu overcome drought and famine, exacerbated by climate change, while maintaining a negative carbon footprint.”
Keeping the engineering design process and project management front and center, the Future City competition asked students to address an authentic, real-world question: How can we make the world a better place?