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Business, STEM

Maricopa Wells Middle School Student Team Wins AZ Region’s 2015 Future City Competition

Phoenix, AZ: The City of Diamant de l’Arizona emerged from the finals round of the local Future City Competition as the 1st Place Winner of the Arizona Region. Their proposed city of the future is located in Pinal County in the year 2262 with a growing population of over 767,000.

Left to Right: Team Members - Elise Brown Thunder, Emily Cordero, and Joseph Rice, Sarah Skrnich - Project Manager, and Robin Rice - Teacher

Left to Right: Team Members – Elise Brown Thunder, Emily Cordero, and Joseph Rice, Sarah Skrnich – Project Manager, and Robin Rice – Teacher

Kain Rivera is the engineering mentor for the team, and helped steer them through the challenges of city planning, identifying feasible technology, and economic development opportunities. One of the unique aspects of the Future City Competition is that each student team is asked to propose a solution to a real-world problem. This year’s problem statement is Feeding Future Cities. The student team was tasked to identify one vegetable and one protein source that could be grown to feed local residents for one growing season. They chose prickly pear cactus, a native to this arid environment, as their vegetable choice, and selected bee pollen as their protein source. As it turns out, the bees pollinate the cacti and are a natural complement to each other.

One of the challenges for their city was extending the growing season of the cacti. Prickly pear is usually harvested during Arizona’s monsoon season during the months of August and September. The team decided to develop two storm simulators that would create conditions similar to a monsoon storm using recycled water. This practice could extend the growing season from once per year to three or four times a year.

Another challenge was maximizing crop space in urban areas where land is more costly than in rural locations. Their solution is to include prickly pear farms in open spaces between multi-story buildings, and to locate their bee pollen systems underground.

Team members will spend the next four weeks doing more research on their city to answer questions that judges may ask during the National Future City Competition, February 14 – 17, 2015, in Washington, DC.

This STEM competition for middle school students was held on Saturday, January 17, 2015 on the campus of Arizona State University. A complete list of all award winners for the AZ Region will be published soon.

Author’s Note: Similar content in this post appeared earlier as a news release for the Future City Competition Arizona Region.

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About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.

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