Middle school students build cities of the future

MILWAUKEE -- Middle schoolers designed their own cities, as part of the Milwaukee School of Engineering's "Future City" competition, celebrating "National Engineers Week."

Though the cities may be small in scale, the ideas presented could serve as solutions to potential problems down the road. If it wasn't for this program, kids wouldn't even have known, 'oh I can be a biochemical engineer, and what does that entail?'" Kelly Wesolowski from Stem Forward, the company that runs the "Future City" competition said. "They're finding new ideas and it kind of gives you hope for the future."

Stem Forward is an educational program that gears middle school students towards math and science. Through the "Future City" competition, some of the area's brightest students have created their own cities that meet our current energy demands, but also maintain a "green" way of thinking. "We actually get to experiment with trial and error, and going through the design process and getting all of our ideas out in a really creative way," Olivia Steidl from Tippecanoe School in Milwaukee said.

The team of students from Tippecanoe experimented with piezo electricity for their solar-powered city. "When you exert pressure onto a 'piezo pad,' it generates electricity and it's stored into a battery," Josie Newcomb from Tippecanoe School in Milwaukee said.

For the defending champions from St. Mary Parish School of Hales Corners, the students used water. "The reverse electric dialysis plant - we have lots of people working there to make sure our energy process is working smoothly," Caroline Mohr, from St. Mary Parish School said.

The winners of the competition will travel to Washington D.C. to compete at the "Future City" national finals in February. The student teams couldn't spend more than $100 on their design.