Justice Page students to compete in national STEAM competition

Justice Page Future City team members (from left to right): Julia Moore, Shirley O'Mara, Maya Gels, Hannah Willingham, Eva Allinder and Clover Mills.

A team of Justice Page Middle School students is heading to Washington D.C. this weekend for a national science, technology, engineering, arts and math competition.

The team won first place out of 59 teams in a regional competition last month to earn the trip to the national Future City competition. A subsequent fundraising effort helped ensure that all six team members would be able to make the trip.

“It’s really cool just to be there,” eighth-grader Maya Gels said.

Eighth-grade science teacher Travis Koupal brought Future City to Page three years ago, when he came to the school from Green Central Park Elementary School. The competition has students design and build a model of a city that would exist at least 100 years in the future.

The students design their cities using the SimCity video game, write essays about solutions to a citywide issue, build tabletop scale models of their cities and create short presentations.

The six Justice Page students were among about 60 who took Koupal’s Future City class at the school this past fall. The top two teams from the class competed in the regional competition last month.

This year’s competition had students design multiuse public spaces that serve a city’s older population. The first-place Justice Page team came up with ideas for two products around the theme. One, they imagined, would allow people to control multiple appliances and gadgets in their homes, while the other would allow for people to virtually join events and classes from their own homes.

“It helps the elderly live their lives the way they want to,” eighth-grader Hannah Willingham said.

Willingham said her team went into the regional competition seeking to have fun. Team members said they were surprised to learn they made the finals of the competition and also surprised when they won it that night.

They added that they’ve learned a lot about cities, city planning and engineering through the class and competition.

“I feel like we all grew a lot,” eighth-grader Eva Allinder said.

Team members said they’re excited to head to Washington D.C. this weekend, adding that Bill Nye will be at the competition. The winning team wins a trip to U.S. Space Camp and $7,500 for their school’s STEM program, but the Page team indicated they’re keeping their expectations modest.

The Page team includes Allinder, Moore, Willingham, eighth-grader Maya Gels, eighth-grader Shirley O’Mara and seventh-grader Clover Mills. They will compete in nationals on Feb. 20.