Meet George Jetson...

The song is stuck in your head now—right? His boy, Elroy, isn’t a student of ours, but…

I cannot help but think of that old TV cartoon when I know the big, wonderful, always STEM*-filled, Future City Competition is approaching!  

When you think of a future city, does that George Jetson sky pad apartment come to mind?  How about the time Jane Jetson’s fingers were worn out from pushing so many buttons?  Are we really that far away from the Jetsons’ Orbit City life?

Back to the Future (City Competition, that is)

Mr. John Allen, Junior High science teacher, all of our 8th grade students, and their project mentors are gearing up for this year’s Future City Competition.

Future City is a national engineering competition. 

According to the Future City organizers, it all starts with a simple question—how can we make the world a better place?  Students imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future that showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue. Past topics include storm water management, urban agriculture, and green energy.

This year’s focus is solid waste management.

Future City is a five-part program, and it is a required science project for all 8th grade students at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School.  Our students work together in teams of three with a mentor.  It is important to note that the mentor only serves in an advisory role.  The project belongs to the students. 

There are five deliverables.  The teams will present their solutions to a solid waste management problem using a (1) virtual city design (using SimCity), (2) 1,500-word city description, (3) scale model, (4) project plan, and (5) presentation to a panel of judges at St. Mary’s school in late November/early December 2015. 

The top five St. Mary’s teams then advance to the Regional Competition in January 2016.  Regional winners move on to the National Finals in Washington, DC in February 2016.

Why Does St. Mary’s Participate in the Future City Competition?

Future City gives our students an opportunity to do things that engineers do by participating in the engineering design process.  They identify problems, brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test/retest and build, and share their results. 

Specifically, our students apply math and science concepts to real-world issues.  They refine writing, public speaking, problem solving, and time management skills.  They also research and propose solutions to engineering challenges and learn more about engineering career options.

St. Mary’s has been successfully competing in the Future City Competition for six years.  I asked Mr. Allen his thoughts about the hardest part of this challenging competition.   He answered, “Having to narrow down our teams to the top five.  We could easily send ten teams every year and successfully compete in the next-level of the competition.”


*STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  The Future City experience is reportedly found to increase students’ excitement and motivation in these disciplines.  To learn more about the Future City Competition, please visit