• Jan. 26, 2024

    Fort Couch advances to national Future City competition

    Future City competitionA team of Fort Couch Middle School students finished first in the 2024 Pittsburgh Regional Future City Competition – qualifying for the national competition in Washington, D.C. Eighth graders Felix Chen, Rory Wilson and Claire Birmingham represented the Fort Couch team at the regional event, which was held on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, at FedEx Ground Corporate Headquarters in Moon Township.

    In addition to first place overall, the Fort Couch team earned three special awards – Best Essay, sponsored by the Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania; Best Model, sponsored by the American Planning Association; and Best Land Surveying Practices, sponsored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. This marks the second year in a row that Fort Couch Middle School has won the regional competition.

    Future City is a national, 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. Students design all aspects of the city, including a specific focus area.  This year’s competition was titled Electrify Your Future – tasking students to design a 100% electrically powered city with energy generated from sources that keep citizens and the environment healthy and safe.

    More than 35 Fort Couch students worked throughout the fall to transform the current city of San Antonio, Chile, located just west of Santiago on the coast, into Tierra Fuerza (roughly Spanish for earth power). Students were coached by Jason O’Roark, gifted and accelerated math teacher.

    “They 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, wrote a seven-minute presentation, and delivered it beautifully at the competition,” Mr. O’Roark said.

    The students designed all aspects of Tierra Fuerza while assuring the city could function on only electric power.

    “This theme is illustrated throughout the city through advanced closed loop geothermal generators, blue energy generators, gravity-based energy storage, next generation graphene aluminum batteries, autonomous vehicles that charge from the road via magnetic induction, a responsive electric grid that intelligently moves power around faults, and many other innovations,” Mr. O’Roark said. “While the energy sources are clean and renewable, they are also consistent and don’t take up much space, unlike wind and solar. This reduces the need for energy storage and provides room for an abundance of green spaces, transforming Tierra Fuerza into a paradise of earth-driven power.”

    Fort Couch Middle School students who worked on the project included eighth graders Aadhya Agrawal, Aanya Agrawal, Maria Alfredson Themudo, Sam An, Claire Birmingham, Taro Carr, Felix Chen, Malo Dubreil, Ahana Mendhi, Grace Nasman, Michaela Pacella, Cynthia Shen, Suhavi Singh, Hope Waldron, John Whitman, Rory Wilson and Joey Wyse; and seventh graders James Conner, Isabella Dastur, Claire Dietiker, Lindsey Fitzgerald, Finley Garvey, Darsh Kakkad, Aadi Kaushik, Lindsay Krofcheck, Will Kreizenbeck, Theodora Lagonis, Owen Maher, Kate McClintock-Comeaux, Clara McLean, Mira Murthy, Avik Pandey, Seth Pedretti, Daniel Smith, Arya Zevallos and Maddy Zevallos.

    The national Future City Competition is set for Feb. 17-20, 2024, in Washington, D.C.