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Woodrow, who lives in Richmond (just south of San Pablo) and works as a contract geologist at the USGS campus in Menlo Park, Calif., spent an hour and a half at Helms Middle School on December 12, talking to a group of 8th graders about faults, earthquakes, and landslides as hazards that we have to live with and design for in the San Francisco Bay region. He brought a striking 3- by-12-ft mosaic of satellite images, created by USGS geographer Ben Sleeter and USGS geologist Florence Wong, which gave the students a detailed view of the San Francisco Bay region, its cities and highways, and the shape of the land in less developed areas, where northwest-trending traces of the San Andreas and related faults are clearly visible. "The students really got into it," said Woodrow, who has visited Helms Middle School in past years to host a USGS booth at the school's annual career fair, with the help of his wife Carole.
This year's Helms Future City team consisted of five male and six female 8th-grade students. They were sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Future City Program, which is coordinated by Bianca Mallory, and Helms Middle School's After-School Program. Woodrow was one of several professionals who met with the students to provide information that would help them design their future city; some of the others were:
The Future City competition required participants to design a city of the future (the Helms team chose year 2150) using SimCity software, to build a physical model of the city using recycled materials, to write an abstract describing their city and an essay on energy strategies for powering it, and to give a verbal presentation to a panel of judges.
Guided by Ricardo Rodriguez, a mechanical engineering student at Contra Costa Community College, the Helms team had two opportunities to present their vision of a future city. The first, a "Pre-Competition" event sponsored by BART, was held at Chabot Space and Science Center on Saturday, January 6, 2007. The Helms team participated with teams from 10 schools in Alameda County, presenting their model to a panel of judges consisting of city-government representatives, business people, and civil engineers. The Helms team won the "Best Architecture" award and, like the other teams, received constructive feedback in a closed session with the judges.
The second opportunity was the Future City Regional Competition at St. Mary's College in Moraga on Saturday, January 13, when teams from 25 northern California schools came together to compete. The Helms team won 5th place, to the delight of LaZena Jones, director of the school's Helms Community Project and advisor to the students throughout their preparation for the competition. Jones noted that the students "were less excited than I" about their win, having "fully expected to come in 1st place!"
The students' enthusiasm was a particularly satisfying outcome of the competition. Jones said, "One female student informed the team that she would like to attend college and study to become an engineer!" She added, "They are truly a great group of students, who love to learn and experience new things."
For more information about the National Engineers Week Future City Competition, visit URL http://www.futurecity.org/.
in this issue:
Middle-School Students Envision a Future City
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