One hundred dollars went a long way for a team of six Martin Murphy Middle School students, who used recycled materials, paint, glue and electronic components to build a scale model of a city to compete in the Future City Northern California Championship.
Team Taifeng Zhen—comprised of seventh-graders Jacob Esch, Patrick Thai, Giovanni Tlaxcalteco Lope, Josue Sanchez Rodrigue and Ezekiel Thu and eighth-grader Rhowen Frakt—finished an all-time school-best second place among 33 participating teams at the competition at Antelope High School.
“This is the sixth year competing, and we’ve won a lot of special awards and got fifth place three times,” said Murphy STEM science teacher Eileen Resnick. “Our goal was to get better than fifth place this year, so we are all ecstatic to be in second.”
The teams were required to design cities of the future that addressed a particular sustainability issue: innovative power grids able to withstand a natural disaster.
Esch, Frakt and Thai were their team’s presenters at the engineering competition, where they demonstrated how they developed a future city able to restore power in the event of a typhoon.
The team members incorporated their knowledge in engineering, math and science concepts as well as research, teamwork, writing, public speaking and problem solving in more than 100 hours of work at school and at home.
“This was completely done on their own time,” said Resnick, who was recently awarded Teacher of the Year by the South Valley Science and Engineering Fair.
Tom Esch, an engineer whose son Jacob was on the team, was a mentor and adviser to the group.
“Tom helped start Future City with me at Murphy six years ago when his older son Jeremy competed,” Resnick said. “Tom was instrumental at getting Future City off to a great start, and Murphy couldn’t have done it without him.”
In order to qualify for the Nor Cal competition, the students needed to complete a Sim City Simulation following a particular rubric, according to Resnick. The students also had to write a research essay concentration on this year’s theme of “Resilient Cities.”
The team created the city model and turned in a project plan and an expense report to prove they stayed within a $100 budget.
At the competition, students presented to a panel of professionals such as engineers and project managers. They had to memorize their eight-minute presentations.
The judges then asked them a variety of questions before selecting the top five teams to give a second presentation and answer more questions.
Murphy entered two teams in the competition. The other competing team—called Team Parksville—was comprised of eighth-graders Kaden Roschuk, Hector Perez, Abram Parlove and Anais Parlove.
Martin Murphy Middle School Future City teams
Team Taifeng Zhen (2nd Place winners)
Jacob Esch, Presenter, 7th grader
Rhowen Frakt, Presenter, 8th grader
Patrick Thai, Presenter, 7th grader
Giovanni Tlaxcalteco Lope, 7th grader
Josue Sanchez Rodrigue, 7th grader
Ezekiel Thu, 7th grader
Kaden Roschuk, 8th grader
Hector Perez, 8th grader
Abram Parlove, 8th grader
Anais Parlove, 8th grader