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Future City Research Essay Rubric Middle School

The 2016-17 Minnesota Future City Competition is off to a great start. On the national level, this year is the 25th anniversary of Future City! The theme of this year's competition is "The Power of Public Space." Students in grades 6-8 will work in teams this fall/winter to design a futuristic city, rst by playing SimCity, then by building a tabletop scale model of their city. Students also write a research essay and give an oral presentation.

Volunteers are needed as mentors and judges.


Mentoring involves meeting with a Future City team at their school (either during the school day or after school). The teacher is always present during meetings. Engineer mentors share career experience with the students and offer guidance as students work
on the Future City deliverables. Mentors generally visit a school once a week or every other week. Virtual mentoring with Skype, email, Google Docs, etc. also works well if there isn't school near your work or home.

The following schools are looking for mentors. Please contact Colleen Feller at colleen.feller@metroecsu.org or 612.638.1511 if you would like to talk with a teacher to see if your schedules match.

-Art and Science Academy, Isanti, MN
-Gateway Academy, Farmington, MN
-John Metcalf Middle School, Burnsville, MN
-Hidden Oaks Middle School, Prior Lake, MN
-New London-Spicer Middle School, New London, MN
-Twin Oaks Middle School, Prior Lake, MN

There are three opportunities for judging (described below). Sign up for one or all three!

1. Computer City Design. Students submit a slideshow that documents what they learned from playing SimCity. Judges do not need SimCity software to evaluate this deliverable. You will read through the students’ slideshow (submitted as a pdf) at home and ll out the online score sheet. Judging takes place in early December and takes 3 hours. A rubric is provided. Read more about the virtual city design.

2. City Essay. Students write a 1,500-word essay describing the unique attributes of their city and providing a solution to this year's challenge: The Power of Public Space. Students will include two detailed accounts of how the city converted two different areas, a roadway and a brown eld or grey eld, into public space. Judges download essays at home and submit scores online. Judging takes place from late December to early January and takes 3 hours. A rubric is provided. Read more about the city essay.

3. Model and Presentation. Regional finals will take place on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis. Working in teams, judges will listen to the students give their presentations and evaluate their physical city model. The time commitment is 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Lunch is provided. Read more about the model and presentation.

Register to be a judge by going to: https://secure.futurecity.org/JudgeBin/Judge/Open/Enroll

Please contact Colleen Feller, MN Future City Competition Coordinator, if you have questions about mentoring or judging (612.638.1511; colleen. feller@metroecsu.org).

Future City Jr. - Team Center

This secure site will:
  • Allow you to set up teams
  • Allow you to upload Essays
    • Automatically time-stamp deliverables
    • Send acknowledgements for uploaded files
  • Obtain detailed scoring reports

The 2017-18 Program

The North Texas Regional will again offer a Junior program for 4-5th graders. This program is an introduction to the full (6-8th grade) Future City Competition effort. It includes the research essay and the physical model deliverables. Download 2017-18 rules and rubrics for the Junior program. Please note: this program is only available in North Texas and a few other FC regions at this time.

Schools and youth organizations with 4th-5th grade students may register by completing the online forms. There is no registration fee at this time for the Future City Jr. program.


The students will work in teams. Teams consist of three 4-5th grade students, an educator and an engineer-mentor. (Suggestions on finding mentors.)

  • Students must be from the same organization, but not necessarily the same class or grade.
  • Organizations with large groups may either
    • Enter multiple teams. Due to possible space limitations, organizations with more than TBA teams and models will need Regional Coordinator approval to present at UT Arlington.
    • Work as a class or group prior to the model showing, but select the three students (one team) that will represent the group at the competition.

Research Essay: "Age-Friendly Cities"

This year's challenge asks participants to identify an age-related challenge that exists in today's urban environments and engineer an innovative solution that allows their future city's senior citizens to be as active and independent as they want to be.

This component will similar to the City Essay outlined in the Program Handbook. Download 2017 rules and rubrics for specific details. The Research Essay will be due 1 December 2017. Late submissions will be accepted through 19 December 2017 (with penalty points deducted). Submit the essay in electronic form, in a common file format (.doc or .pdf), by uploading to the FC Jr. Team Center.

Physical Model

This component will be similar to the model for the middle school project, except

  • Model size will be no bigger than 25" (w) x 36" (l) x 20" (h).
  • Model will be focused on demonstrating the public spaces theme/essay topic.
  • The total value of the materials used may not exceed $50 and must be reported on the Competition Expense form.

Download 2018 rules and rubrics for specific details.


Orientationwebinar, 2017-18

Essay Resources

Model Resources


  • The essay and model will be judged by multiple judges (technical professionals) and the scores for each averaged then added together to come up with a composite/total score for each team.
  • The essay will be judged during Dec-Jan.
  • Model judging will take place at UT Arlington on the same date as the NTX Regional Competition.
  • While there will be no formal presentation by the students, the team will stand with their model during judging to briefly explain their research solution (waste managment) and answer the judges' questions.
  • Judges will spend approximately 5 minutes with each model display.
  • Adults (parents, teachers, mentors) are not allowed to participate. They may stand quietly (out of the way, along the walls) and observe.


  • Future City Competition Junior will provide prizes for Best Essay, Best Model, and Best Overall Junior Team. Additional special awards may also be presented.
  • Prizes will consist of a cash award, gift cards for the students and a plaque/certificate.
  • Prizes will be presented during the Future City NTX Regional Awards Ceremony immediately following the Regional Competition.

Other Rules

  • Participants will comply with the basic rules of the Future City Competition program as laid out in the handbook and as modified in the soon-to-be-published Junior rules and rubrics.
  • Deadlines will not be extended. Teams making submittals after the deadlines will receive penalty points.
  • Any conflicts will be resolved locally. There is no appeal.
  • The judges' decisions are final.
  • Prizes are not transferable or exchangeable.
List of Penalties
  • Late or missing work. See Schedule for specific dates.
    • Essay after due date - Minus 5 points
    • Essay after final deadline - will not be scored at all
    • Note: Missing work does not disqualify a team.
  • Incomplete or missing Honor Statement - Minus 2 points
  • Exceeding the maximum word limit on the Research Essay - Minus 10 points
  • Over budget or undocumented expenses - Model costs exceeding $50 or missing Expense Form - Minus 15 points
    • Incomplete expense form - missing receipts, not accounting for all major items, missing teacher signature - Minus 5 points
  • Model ID - Missing all or part of Model ID - Minus 1-5 points
  • Model size - Exceeding the max dimensions for the model in any direction - Minus 15 points
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct by team members or guests (includes rude behavior to judges, competitors, or disruption of another team's judging session) - Minus 20 points
  • Destruction of another team's model or presentation materials - Disqualification

2017-18 Schedule

Thru 31 OctRegistration
Oct-Nov Student teams research and write essay
1 DecEssay due
  • Submit in electronic format - common format such as .doc or .pdf
  • Upload files through the Team Center
  • As a last resort, you may submit electronic copy by email
  • Files received by deadline will avoid late penalties.
    Late submissions are allowed - see below for dates and penalties.
19 DecLast date for Essay files.
Files received by this date will have 5 points deducted.
Competition Day -
27 Jan 2018
Competition at UT Arlington, Nedderman Hall

Schools and Organizations

2017-18 Registered Organizations (as of 1-Nov)

  • Caillet Elementary, Dallas
  • James Delaney Elementary, Kennedale
  • IW Evans Intermediate, Bonham
  • Justin Elementary, Justin
  • Kerens Elementary, Kerens
  • Lake Dallas Elementary, Lake Dallas
  • Manara STEM Academy, Arlington
  • Martha Reid Elementary, Mansfield
  • RF Patterson Elementary, Kennedale
  • Rufus Burleson Elementary, Dallas
  • Village Tech Schools, Cedar Hill
  • Washington Middle School, El Dorado, AR

Information for Competition Day

Detailed information and schedule for (27 January 2018) here.

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