Middle schoolers engineer future city

| 22 Feb 2012 | 07:53

Vernon — Emily Gibson, Joseph LeRoy and Heather Passaro — all students from Glen Meadow Middle School — placed eighth in a North Jersey Regional Future City competition held at Rutgers University on Saturday, Jan. 17. Sixty northern New Jersey schools were represented at the competition. The three Vernon children entered the competition in October using their creativity, ingenuity and knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to perform six specific tasks. They all attended the event along with their families, Ellen Shapiro, who is Glen Meadow’s advisor to its Schoolwide Enrichment Program, known as SWEP, and Russell Van Sweden, a 2001 Vernon alumni, who is an engineer with Langan Engineering & Environmental Services. Glen Meadow’s team of Emily, Joe and Heather were required to use software to design a city that had at least 50,000 residents. They were tasked with creating a 3-D model of a section of their city and composing both a 500 to 700 word essay and a 300 to 500 word abstract. Their work was judged by a team of professional engineers who asked task-specific questions, and quizzed them on their design choices and use of alternative power sources. The Glen Meadow model focused on rebuilding/renovating existing buildings so as not to overload landfills. The Future City competition focuses attention on the potential of 12- to 14-year-old girls and boys to become America’s next generation of scientists, inventors and engineers. It pairs teams of three students with a teacher and a volunteer mentor engineer. The Glen Meadow team was able to tap the skills and expertise of VanSweden, whose knowledge of environmental issues was invaluable to the group as this year’s focus was the conservation, recycling and reuse of water sources.