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South Milwaukee — Divine Mercy School students put their creativity to the test by imagining, researching, designing and building a city of the future.

More than 200 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from 65 teams throughout southeastern Wisconsin presented their utopian cities of the future, emphasizing The Power of Public Spaces, at the 2017 WI Regional Future City Competition. The event, held at MSOE’s Kern Center in Milwaukee on Jan. 21, hosted a record-breaking number of participants from more than 30 Wisconsin schools.

Max Block, Jack Serketich, Sean VanHandel and Mitchell Piraino from South Milwaukee's Divine Mercy competed, with Dakota Hatzenbeller serving as an alternate on the team.

“The biggest lesson my students learned is that working together as a team is fun, and with teammates, jobs get done faster,” said Karen Schaible, sixth-grade science teacher at Divine Mercy. “Students learned how many different types of engineers are needed to make a city work, and the hard work they have to put into it to ensure the safety and health of the community.”

Divine Mercy School students were challenged to design innovative, multi-use public spaces that serve a city’s diverse population. Their city – called Novi Stadion – provided public access for all of its residents, including those with special needs, and incorporated many different types of activities, so people of all cultures could participate.

The first place winners of the 2017 WI Regional Future City Competition were Shriya Punati, Pallavi Kandipati, Pranav Iyer of Forest Park Middle School in Franklin. They will receive a trip to Washington, D.C., from Feb. 18-21 to compete against the winning regional teams in the nation.

As part of the Future City Competition, students work in a team with an educator and engineer mentor, and are challenged to design a virtual city using SimCity software. They research today’s public spaces and write a city essay about their solutions and city design. Students then bring their ideas to life by building a tabletop scale model of their city using recycled materials on a budget of $100 or less and give a brief presentation about their city.

STEM Forward, a Milwaukee nonprofit organization, is the regional coordinator of the Future City Competition in Wisconsin. STEM Forward’s programs, events and activities inspire local youth to pursue STEM careers and provide a pipeline of talent to businesses in southeastern Wisconsin.

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