City leaders celebrate Justice Page Middle School’s STEAM efforts

Students on a Justice Page Middle School Future City team smile for a picture with Mayor Jacob Frey (right) and Ward 11 City Council Member Jeremy Schroeder (left).
Students on a Justice Page Middle School Future City team smile for a picture with Mayor Jacob Frey (right) and Ward 11 City Council Member Jeremy Schroeder (left).

Several city leaders came to Justice Page Middle School this past Friday to celebrate a group of students who competed in a national engineering competition in February.

Mayor Jacob Frey, Ward 11 City Council Member Jeremy Schroeder and Fire Chief John Fruetel were on hand to honor the six students, who competed in the national Future City competition in Washington D.C. The team finished 14th at the competition after taking first out of 59 teams in a regional competition in January.

“They made myself, our school, our district, our city and our state proud,” said science teacher Travis Koupal, the team’s coach.

Future City is a engineering competition for students in grades 6–8 centered around city planning, according to Koupal. The students design a virtual city using the SimCity video game, write a research essay around the year’s theme, construct a tabletop model of their city using recycled materials and prepare and perform a five-to-seven-minute presentation.

Koupal said the project incorporates nearly every element of science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM, in additional to broad concepts such as critical thinking, project management and teamwork.

About 60 students took Koupal’s Future City class at Page this past fall, and the top two teams in the class went to the regional competition. The regional-winning team, called Team Star Je Novi Mladi, won awards for best essay and best model, in addition to the first-place award.

The school’s second team, called Civitatem Vita, had the highest-scoring presentation at regionals and won the award for engineering excellence.

“It was a good day for us,” Koupal said.

Ward 11 City Council Member Schroeder, Justice Alan Page and Mayor Jacob Frey pose with students before the start of the school day Friday.
Ward 11 City Council Member Jeremy Schroeder, Justice Alan Page and Mayor Jacob Frey pose with students before the start of the school day Friday.

Koupal is leading an effort to rebuild Page’s STEAM program around its maker’s space, a hands-on science, technology and engineering room in the school’s basement. Nearly all of the school’s students will have had at least one experience in the space by the school year’s end, Koupal said.

The school is working to raise funds to purchase 3D printers, sewing machines, electronic components and more for the new space.

During a ceremony Friday morning, Koupal recognized the efforts of the school’s partners at the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota. He also recognized the contributions of the school’s parent-teacher association and the school’s staff STEAM team that includes Tim Jungwirth, Abbey Janicek and Angie Martin.

Koupal said the school will have raised nearly $10,000 for Future City and STEAM education by the end of the year.

Justice Page Middle School science teacher Travis Koupal provides instructions for an activity in the school's maker space.
Justice Page Middle School science teacher Travis Koupal provides instructions for an activity in the school’s maker space this past Friday.

Frey praised the Future City students for their work and added that he likes that the competition includes a cross section of disciplines. He said the city needs to make sure that every bit of talent in the Minneapolis school district is utilized, noting a workforce shortage in the region.

Team Star Je Novi Mladi consisted of students Julia Moore, Shirley O’Mara, Maya Gels, Hannah Willingham, Eva Allinder and Clover Mills. John Haupt is the team’s engineering mentor, and teacher Hayley Wender helped the team prepare its presentation.

Visit gofundme.com/jpmsmakerspace3 to learn more about the school’s maker’s space.

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